IMO 2020 regulation

Posted by Tim Wouters


Worldwide efforts are made by all kind of industries to decrease their environmental impact and reduce pollution.

In this context the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has imposed new regulations to the ship operators in order to reduce marine pollution caused by the shipping industry.

One of these new regulations is the “IMO 2020” rule, which becomes effective as from  1st of January 2020. IMO Sulphur 2020 will reduce the sulphur content in bunker fuel from the current    3,5 % down to a maximum level of 0,5 %.

IMO 2020 logo mentioning 0.50% sulphur reduction and 77% drop in overall SOx emissions from ships (2020-2025)

Required investments

This rule will make the maritime industry significantly greener, but in order to meet the new regulations, marine vessels operators will have to make very important investments:

  • Use more expensive low sulphur distillate fuels (or low sulphur oils) and/or
  • Install exhaust gas cleaning systems (known as scrubbers) and/or
  • Equip new built vessel with LNG or methanol powered engines


Cost of the compliance with the IMO Sulphur 2020 rule is still under discussion. But the increase of the port-to-port freight rates is estimated between 10 and 20%, or up to USD 200 per TEU, depending on the carrier, fuel cost locally and trade lane (used route).

Some carriers announce the implementation of the new rates or low sulphur surcharges from December 1st 2019, while others announce recovery fees to be introduces from January 1st 2019.

Capacity may also be impacted in the short term and the new regulation will likely have an influence on global freight rates and global fuel supply and demand.

Our promise

At this moment the real impact on the tariffs is still unclear, but we want to assure you that T.C.L. will do everything possible to defend your interests!

We will keep you closely informed about the oncoming evolution.

Meanwhile, don’t hesitate to contact your TCL representative in case you have further questions.

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