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Five shipping companies reported for non-compliance with sulphur requirements

The Danish Ministry of Environment and Food has just reported five shipping companies to the police for violating the tighter requirements for the sulphur content of marine fuels. The object of the tighter requirements is to reduce air pollution.

Published 22. June 2016

Since 1 January 2015, international requirements have called for ships in the North Sea and in the Baltic Sea to run on cleaner fuels with a 90% lower sulphur content. Sulphur emissions from ships represent a major source of air pollution, not only in near-shore areas, but also onshore, as pollution drifts with the wind.

To prevent ships from ignoring rules and using fuels that pollute the air with sulphur, the Ministry of Environment and Food has intensified its control measures. These measures have led to five companies being reported.

"Control and enforcement is crucial to our health, the environment and to avoid unfair competition for law-abiding shipping companies. The financial benefits from ignoring the rules are huge. Therefore, we have strengthened our control checks of sulphur in marine fuels," said Danish Minister for Environment and Food, Esben Lunde Larsen.

On behalf of the Danish EPA, the Danish Maritime Authority will take oil samples from ships in Danish ports. The oil samples will be analysed to determine their sulphur content.

These controls will be supplemented by aerial surveillance via a so-called 'sniffer' which Denmark is one of the first countries in the world to use. The sniffer has been fitted on the Great Belt Bridge as well as on a small aeroplane, and it can 'sniff out' any ships in Danish waters using illicit fuels. The aim of the sniffer is to enable inspectors to track down ships using fuels with a high sulphur content. 

Five shipping companies have been reported to the police

Since January 2015, more than 200 oil samples have been taken and analysed. On the basis of the oil samples, the Danish EPA has just reported five shipping companies to the police for sailing on fuels with a high sulphur content. In addition, one shipping company was reported last year. The six shipping companies are all foreign. The new reports cover violations from 20% above the limit value to sulphur content of almost nine-times the limit.

"Five shipping companies have just been reported to the police for violating the tighter international requirements for the sulphur content in marine fuels. Sulphur and particles are harmful to human health and the environment, and therefore it's important that we put a stop to shipping companies that infringe requirements for sulphur in fuels," said Esben Lunde Larsen.

It is now up to the police to investigate these reports. The courts then have to decide the penalty and possible fines. According to the EU Sulphur Directive, fines must be effective, proportionate and dissuasive for non-compliance, deprive those responsible of economic benefits and increase for repeated non-compliance.

Further information:

Jeanette Løv Rasmussen, Press Officer, Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark, tel.: +45 9359 7070, e-mail:

Sara Røpke, Head of Division at the Danish EPA, tel.: +45 4178 2039, e-mail: