Vessel operators in the Port of Seattle's At-Berth Clean Fuels Program have reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide by at least 80 percent and diesel particulate matter by 60 percent, helping the region to meet its clean-air targets.
The program, known as ABC Fuels, was formally unveiled this month in a demonstration aboard Matson Navigation Company's container ship Manoa, which was docked at the port's Terminal 18 container facility and using low sulfur diesel fuel to power its auxiliary engines.
"ABC Fuels reduces emissions where it makes the greatest difference," said Phil Lutes, Deputy Managing Director of the port's Seaport Division. "When ships are in port, they're close to where people work and live. Switching to low sulfur diesel when they're tied up at our piers means cleaner air for our region."
One challenge is the cost-differential between regular fuel and low sulfur fuel, Lutes says. Low sulfur fuel is more highly refined and thus more expensive. The ABC program helps compensate shipping lines for the transition to low sulfur fuel.
ABC Fuels was developed as a collaborative effort by the port and shipping lines that call Seattle home in order to meet the goals of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, a joint effort by the ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Metro Vancouver in British Columbia, and their private sector partners to reduce maritime related air emissions.
Vessels participating in ABC Fuels agree to use low sulfur fuel (0.5 percent or less) in their auxiliary engines while docked in Seattle. In exchange, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency helps defray the cost of the more expensive low sulfur fuel by providing participating vessels with $1,500 for each port call.
"The financial incentive helps vessel operators make the transition to the cleaner fuels," says Lutes.
So far 37 ships from six container lines and one cruise line are participating in ABC Fuels. Those ships have made 91 stops at Seattle since January and represent about 35 percent of the vessels that make frequent calls at the Port. Sulfur dioxide emissions from those vessels have declined by more than 20 tons.
Participating shipping lines include APL, CMA CGM, China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO), Hapag Lloyd, Maersk Line, Matson Navigation, and Norwegian Cruise Line.
The port is is contributing about $450,000 this year to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency for emission reduction activities, including the ABC Fuels program.
Dennis McLerran, the agency's executive director, said the program "achieves immediate and significant emission reductions when ships are in port, to the benefit of all who live and breathe in surrounding areas. We hope to see other larger container carriers and cruise lines take advantage of this program."
Speaking aboard the Manoa while holding samples showing the dramatic difference in appearance between low-sulfur and regular diesel fuel, Lisa Swanson, Director of Environmental Affairs for Matson, said, "Protecting the environment is very important to our business and a major part of of core values. Matson appreciates the cooperative efforts that have allowed us to participate in this voluntary program to burn cleaner fuels at dock.
"It is safer and easier to comply with than similar programs in other jurisdictions."
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