Indonesia will implement IMO low-sulfur fuel rule on schedule: ministry

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian-flagged ships will comply with new low-sulfur fuel rules that start next year, the country’s Ministry of Transportation said on Tuesday, after earlier saying more time was needed to meet the requirement.

Under International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules that come into effect in 2020, ships will have to use fuel with a maximum 0.5% sulfur content, down from 3.5% now, unless they are equipped with scrubbers to remove the sulfur from the vessel’s emissions.

In a statement on Tuesday, Sudiono, the Transportation Ministry’s director of shipping and maritime affairs, said the rule will be applied to “all Indonesian-flagged vessels starting Jan. 1, 2020, both for domestic and foreign shipping.”

Last month, the ministry said it would allow Indonesian-flagged vessels to continue burning marine fuels with a maximum 3.5% sulfur content in its territorial waters past 2020 without having to use scrubber.

A ministry spokesman declined to comment on the change but said there will be a separate statement laying out the government’s considerations.

In July, Sudiono said that one of the reasons for Indonesia not enforcing the low-sulfur rule was because state oil company PT Pertamina still produces large amounts high-sulfur fuel oil from its refineries.

The Transportation Ministry said on Tuesday that Pertamina will produce 380,000 kilolitres per year of fuel with a maximum sulfur content of 0.5%. From the start of next year the company will set up sales points for the low-sulfur fuel in Jakarta’s main sea port and from a floating storage off Balikpapan in East Kalimantan province.

Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; editing by Christian Schmollinger