Clean maritime fuel: Carnival shifts to greener oil

clean maritime fuel
© iStock/ icholakov

Cruise ship giant Carnival has announced its vessels traversing the Arctic have made the transition from heavy fuel oil to the cleaner low sulphur marine gas oil.

The Carnival Corporation declared via maritime news portal TradeWinds that all its cruise ships travelling to the Arctic had made the conversion to low sulphur gas oil up to two years ago, to some confusion from environmental campaigners: the Clean Up Carnival coalition has been calling on the corporation to adopt cleaner fuel options since 2016; and Carnival told TradeWinds in October 2018 that it was still relying on heavy fuel oil.

Kendra Ulrich, Senior Shipping Campaigner at US-based environmental organisation Stand.earth, said: “If true, today’s announcement makes Carnival Corporation the first major cruise company to pledge this kind of commitment to protecting the Arctic. Stand.earth applauds this as an important step in the right direction, and a move that puts the shipping sector on the pathway to a truly heavy fuel oil-free Arctic. Now Carnival should take the next logical step to ensure that none of its ships traveling to the region are carrying heavy fuel oil onboard…in the interest of transparency, Carnival should release its fuel logs to show the world it has been, and will continue to be, a leader in getting heavy fuel oil out of this fragile Arctic ecosystem.”

It appears probable that Carnival’s mooted adoption of cleaner fuels only applies in areas specifically defined as Arctic by International Maritime Organisation (IMO) guidelines: Carnival owns nine ships which travel to IMO-defined Arctic areas; while a further 49 vessels travel in the surrounding environs. The Clean Up Carnival coalition has lobbied the Cruise Lines International Association, of which Carnival is the largest dues-paying member, to support a full ban on the use of heavy fuel oil in vulnerable regions such as the Arctic.

Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, said: “With the IMO’s Arctic ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil on the horizon, and measures to reduce black carbon emissions from shipping currently under discussion at the IMO, Carnival’s decision to not use heavy fuel oil lays down a challenge to all Arctic shipping operators. Banning the world’s dirtiest fuel from Arctic shipping is the simplest and easiest way to reduce the risks of long-lasting, damaging oil spills, and will result in a significant reduction in emissions of black carbon, which exacerbates sea ice melt when it settles on snow and ice. Now it’s up to Arctic operators to meet Carnival’s challenge, by making the switch to cleaner fuels.”

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