China Sulfur Limit Regulatory Update

The Chinese government announced in late 2015 their three-year plan to reduce SOx emission starting by January 1, 2016. As of January 1, 2017, ships at berth in the eleven core ports within the emission control areas (ECAs) are required to use fuel with no more than 0.5%m/m sulfur content. The requirement will extend to ships at berth in all ports in the ECAs starting January 1, 2018, and will progress in 2019 to ships operating within designated ECAs.

Several Chinese local authorities have notified stakeholders of their decision for earlier implementation of the emission control measures.

In Yangtze River Delta ECAs, the implementation of the 0.5%m/m sulfur limit began on April 1, 2016, applying to ships at berth in core ports within the ECA. Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Suzhou and Nantong ports are designated as core ports within the Yangtze River Delta ECA.

The implementation of SOx emission control measures in the Shenzhen port started on October 1, 2016. Ships are required to use fuel that does not exceed 0.5%m/m sulfur content while at berths in Shenzhen port. The Shenzhen port is one of the three core ports within the Pearl River Delta ECA. The other two are Guangzhou port and Zhuhai port.

The most recent notice of early implementation was announced by the Maritime Safety Administration of Zhejiang Province. As of September 1, 2017, ships are required to use fuel with sulfur content of 0.5%m/m or less at berth in all ports within the ECA of Zhejiang Province, which is part of Yangtze River Delta ECA. For more details (in Chinese), please visit

Ships may use shore power supply, clean fuel or adopt exhaust gas treatment as alternative measures for achieving the equivalent emission control.

Military ships, sport boats and fishing vessels are excluded from the above requirements.

At berth is defined as the period within one hour after ship’s arrival at berth and within one hour before departure.