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Ports Host Low-Sulfur Fuel Workshop

Program aims to improve air quality by cutting emissions from ships

April 9, 2008

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach hosted an informational meeting on their Vessel Main Engine Fuel Incentive Program on April 9. Click here to view the webcast
See the photos. PowerPoint presentationFact Sheet.    

On March 24th the Long Beach and Los Angeles harbor commissioners approved the Incentive Program aimed at accelerating cargo vessel operators' use of cleaner-burning fuel when transiting within 40 miles of San Pedro Bay and at berth in either port.  As part of the program the ports will earmark nearly $19 million to pay vessel operators to use cleaner-burning, low-sulfur fuel in their main propulsion engines. Sulfur oxides, which contribute to the formation of health-threatening soot or particulate matter, will be cut by as much as 11 percent and particulate matter by 9 percent, accelerating air-quality improvements ahead of an already aggressive schedule set by the landmark San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan.

Under the program, the ports will pay the difference between the price of bunker fuel and more costly low-sulfur distillate fuel for vessel operators who make the fuel switch within at least 20 miles -- and as far as 40 miles -- from the ports.  Vessels also will be required to use low-sulfur fuel in their auxiliary engines while at berth in the port complex. To qualify for the incentive program, the ships must participate in the ports' voluntary Vessel Speed Reduction Program, limiting speeds to 12 knots during approach and departure. Most ships already participate in the speed reduction program, which also curbs emissions.

The one-year program will begin July 1 and expire June 30, 2009, unless extended by the two commissions.  On July 1, 2009, a pending California Air Resources Board regulation would require the use of low-sulfur fuel in cargo vessels' main propulsion engines within 24 nautical miles of the state's coast. The ports' Clean Air Action Plan also calls for the ports to accelerate ship-emission reductions by including lease-based limits on sulfur content in fuel. This is still planned. The incentive program is aimed at reducing more emissions on an even faster schedule. 

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