Clean Arctic Alliance Welcomes Russian-Finnish statement on Cleaner Arctic Shipping Fuel
The Clean Arctic Alliance welcomes the joint statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on the need to move to cleaner ships’ fuels such as LNG in the Arctic.
Speaking on behalf of the Clean Arctic Alliance, Alexey Knizhnikov of WWF Russia said that “the risks of using heavy fuel oil in the Arctic are too high, and we welcome President Putin and President Niinisto’s vision and leadership in seeking to move to cleaner fuels for Arctic shipping. We should now expect that the Russian Federation’s position on the HFO issue will be adjusted in line with President Putin’s statement, and we hope to see these change in place at the International Maritime Organization’s MEPC73 meeting this October in London”.
- The greatest volume of shipping fuel used in the Arctic is heavy fuel oil – the dirtiest of ships’ fuels
- The use and carriage as fuel of HFO by ships in the Arctic poses two threats – first that of HFO spills, which are virtually impossible to clean up because of the high viscosity. Plus a spill in a remote Arctic location will lack oil spill capacity and facilities to respond to a spill. Secondly through the emission of black carbon in the exhaust from ships’ engines when it is burnt. The black carbon absorb heats and settles onto snow and ice, speeding up the rate of melting. This week it was reported that Arctic’s strongest sea ice has broken up twice this year, for the first time on record
- In April 2018, a meeting of International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC72) agreed to move forward on consideration of a Arctic ban on heavy fuel oil. The meeting directed a sub-committee (PPR6) – which will meet in early 2019 – to develop a ban on heavy fuel oil use and carriage for use by ships in the Arctic, “on the basis of an assessment of the impacts” and “on an appropriate timescale”.
- The Marine Environment Protection Committee meets in London this October for MEPC73.
- To date, Russia has not supported a ban on HFO use and carriage as fuel by ships in Arctic waters. Russia has seen a ban on the use and carriage of HFO as fuel as a last resort and prefers to explore other mitigation options. The Clean Arctic Alliance, is campaigning for a ban on HFO use and carriage as fuel in the Arctic, and notes that a Russian state-owned shipping company Sovcomflot has already spoken openly about the need to move away from oil-based fuels, and marine bunker fuel supplier Gazpromneft expects to halt fuel oil use from 2025.