Chinese ECZ’s: regulations enforced for sulphur requirement for marine fuels

As early as 4th Dec 2015, the Chinese Ministry of Transportation had introduced an action plan for implementing Ship Emission Control Zones (ECZs) in three key coastal regions: the Yangtze River Delta region (YRD), the Pearl River Delta region (PRD) and the Bohai Sea region (also known as the Jingjinji region).

These regulations are part of a five-year programme  by the Chinese to reduce Sulphur and Nitrogen oxide emissions at some of it’s key ports by upto 65%. These regulations place a cap on the suphur content of the fuel at 0.50%. This proposed limit is much below the current global cap of 3.50% (the IMO has recommended a global cap of 0.50% sulphur content in fuels from 2020 onwards) but less stringent than the current IMO designated cap of 0.10% for ECA regions. The plan also pushes for the use of shore power to prevent the NOx emissions when in the ECZs. This limit of 0.50% is subject to being revised to 0.10% after the 2019 systematic evaluation which would also consider expansion of the ECZs and other actions. The implementation would be phased in over a period of four years.


Eleven ports with the ECZs were designated as ‘key ports’:

  • Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Suzhou and Nantong in the Yangtze River Delta
  • Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Zhuhai in the Pearl River Delta
  • Tianjin, Qinhuangdao, Tangshan and Huanghua in the Bohai Sea

China ECZ

These regulations are applicable to all vessels operating within the ECZ boundary, with the exception of  fishing vessels, military vessels and sports vessels.

The boundary is 12 nautical miles offshore of the three regions with the regulations being applicable to inland waterways within the regions as well. As mentioned earlier, the boudaries can be modified upon an evaluation in 2019.

As of now, the regulations are only concerned with the SOx emissions and do not mention anything about the NOx emissions.


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