The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a United Nations body, is responsible for safety and environmental regulations that govern international shipping. Key regulations have been established through a Marine Pollution Convention, widely known as the MARPOL Convention.
The maximum sulphur level of fuels for international shipping is set by Regulation 14 of Annex VI to MARPOL. The current text of this sulphur regulation has been agreed in 2008. It foresaw reducing the maximum sulphur level from 3.50% to 0.50%, either in 2020 or 2025, pending an evaluation of availability of sufficient compliant fuel.
In October 2016, the International Maritime Organization (“IMO”) confirmed the implementation of the 0.50 % wt global sulphur limit as of 1 January 2020, on the basis of a Fuel Availability Study. This means that as of 1 January 2020, ships not equipped with an approved exhaust gas cleaning system will need to switch to using 0.50% sulphur fuel. Fuels can be supplied in line with the current regulatory requirements (i.e. 3.50% S) until the end of 2019.