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News: US EPA amends rule to allow sale of 0.5% sulphur marine fuel

07 January 2020

On 18 December 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) amended its diesel fuel regulations to allow fuel suppliers to distribute distillate diesel fuel that complies with the sulphur standard that applies internationally for ships instead of the fuel standards that otherwise apply to distillate diesel fuel in the US.  The rule removes the restriction on the distribution of distillate fuel between 1,000 ppm and 5,000 ppm in the US (for use outside of US Emission Control Area (ECA) boundaries), to provide the necessary flexibility for US fuel suppliers who participate in the global marine fuel market. 

The amendment is significant as it shows that the EPA intends to regulate the production and distribution of fuel in the US, regardless of where that fuel may be burned and whether the fuel is bunkered into ships equipped with scrubbers that will burn the fuel entirely outside of US waters.

Members should note that IMO-compliant fuel cannot be used in US ECA. Only distillate fuel below 1,000 ppm can be burned in US ECA which encompasses 200 nautical miles off the US coastline.

For further commentary regarding the final rule and potential impacts of similar US regulations, please see this recent article published in the Maritime Logistics Professional.

Further information