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Marine Fuel in the Arctic

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Use of heavy fuel oils in the Canadian Arctic

Transport Canada is working hard to protect the Canadian Arctic through the Oceans Protection Plan. We’re also working with our international partners and organizations like the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and Arctic Council.

One of the ways we’re working to protect the Arctic is by reducing the risks of a fuel spill from ships, including ships using heavy fuel oil (HFO).

The IMO asked us to complete an impact assessment on an international proposal to ban the use of HFO by ships in Arctic waters.

Canada will be discussing this report at an IMO meeting in February 2020. We will also use this opportunity to tell member states about important considerations regarding Canada’s Arctic like the importance of our Arctic communities, ecology, and economy.

Update

From February 17-21, the International Maritime Organization’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response met to discuss a potential ban on the use, and carriage for use, of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. While a number of Member Countries expressed support for an Arctic ban on heavy fuel oil, there was discussion among members about the potential timing of such a ban. Canada’s delegation proposed that an heavy fuel oil ban in the Arctic enter into force in time for the 2024 shipping season, to provide Arctic partners and stakeholders with sufficient opportunity to prepare for it. Canada’s proposal was widely supported by Member Countries, though a debate over whether to allow exemptions for certain types of vessels from a ban continued throughout the four-day Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response meeting.

Proposal for a ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic

Following discussions between Member Countries, the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response agreed to a ban on the use, and carriage for use, of heavy fuel oil as fuel in the Arctic to enter into force on July 1, 2024. This recommendation will be submitted to the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in the fall of 2020 for review and approval. If the measure is approved, the formal adoption and entry in force process for a ban would begin.

The agreed-upon ban proposal contains three main clauses that allow for exemptions (with two of the three exemptions being time-limited and expiring in 2029):

  1. Ships engaged in search and rescue or dedicated to pollution response will be exempt from the Arctic ban, as is currently the case in the similar ban on heavy fuel oil in the Antarctic;
  1. Ships constructed in accordance with MARPOL Annex I (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) and Polar Code requirements that provide extra protection for fuel tanks will be given until July 1, 2029 to comply with the ban; and
  1. Arctic Member Countries will be given an option to exempt domestic vessels operating in their Arctic waters until July 1, 2029. The International Maritime Organization must be notified of these exemptions, and must take into account guidelines that will be developed to ensure that the risk of an heavy fuel oil spill from these exempt vessels is reduced.

Next steps

Following agreement at the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response, the next steps in this process are the review and approval of the ban proposal at the Marine Environment Protection Committee, scheduled for the fall of 2020. Transport Canada will continue to work with partners and stakeholders over the coming months to ensure the concerns and interests of Canadians are reflected at this international forum.


Share your ideas!

  • Click on “Register” at the top of the page or sign in
  • Answer the questions below in the forum by using the “Have Your Say” tab
  • Send a written submission using the “Submissions” tab

Use of heavy fuel oils in the Canadian Arctic

Transport Canada is working hard to protect the Canadian Arctic through the Oceans Protection Plan. We’re also working with our international partners and organizations like the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and Arctic Council.

One of the ways we’re working to protect the Arctic is by reducing the risks of a fuel spill from ships, including ships using heavy fuel oil (HFO).

The IMO asked us to complete an impact assessment on an international proposal to ban the use of HFO by ships in Arctic waters.

Canada will be discussing this report at an IMO meeting in February 2020. We will also use this opportunity to tell member states about important considerations regarding Canada’s Arctic like the importance of our Arctic communities, ecology, and economy.

Update

From February 17-21, the International Maritime Organization’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response met to discuss a potential ban on the use, and carriage for use, of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic. While a number of Member Countries expressed support for an Arctic ban on heavy fuel oil, there was discussion among members about the potential timing of such a ban. Canada’s delegation proposed that an heavy fuel oil ban in the Arctic enter into force in time for the 2024 shipping season, to provide Arctic partners and stakeholders with sufficient opportunity to prepare for it. Canada’s proposal was widely supported by Member Countries, though a debate over whether to allow exemptions for certain types of vessels from a ban continued throughout the four-day Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response meeting.

Proposal for a ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic

Following discussions between Member Countries, the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response agreed to a ban on the use, and carriage for use, of heavy fuel oil as fuel in the Arctic to enter into force on July 1, 2024. This recommendation will be submitted to the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in the fall of 2020 for review and approval. If the measure is approved, the formal adoption and entry in force process for a ban would begin.

The agreed-upon ban proposal contains three main clauses that allow for exemptions (with two of the three exemptions being time-limited and expiring in 2029):

  1. Ships engaged in search and rescue or dedicated to pollution response will be exempt from the Arctic ban, as is currently the case in the similar ban on heavy fuel oil in the Antarctic;
  1. Ships constructed in accordance with MARPOL Annex I (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships) and Polar Code requirements that provide extra protection for fuel tanks will be given until July 1, 2029 to comply with the ban; and
  1. Arctic Member Countries will be given an option to exempt domestic vessels operating in their Arctic waters until July 1, 2029. The International Maritime Organization must be notified of these exemptions, and must take into account guidelines that will be developed to ensure that the risk of an heavy fuel oil spill from these exempt vessels is reduced.

Next steps

Following agreement at the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response, the next steps in this process are the review and approval of the ban proposal at the Marine Environment Protection Committee, scheduled for the fall of 2020. Transport Canada will continue to work with partners and stakeholders over the coming months to ensure the concerns and interests of Canadians are reflected at this international forum.


Share your ideas!

  • Click on “Register” at the top of the page or sign in
  • Answer the questions below in the forum by using the “Have Your Say” tab
  • Send a written submission using the “Submissions” tab
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