Greek Cruise Ship Owner Fined in Norway for Violating Sulphur Content Rules

MS Magellan cruise ship
File of the MS Magellan. Photo: Sjøfartsdirektoratet

The Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) has fined a Greek shipowner nearly $80,000 for violating a new law limiting the sulphur content of fuel used by ships operating in world heritage fjords.

The fines stem from the operation of the MS Magellan, owned by the Greek company Global Cruise Lines Ltd, in two of the fjords protected under new environmental requirements related to emissions and discharges from ships that entered into force March 1, 2019.

According to the NMA, on April 16 it received notes of concern about smoke emissions from the Bahamas-registered cruise ship as it was berthed in Flåm. The reports were followed up by an inspection on board when the ship arrived at Geiranger the following. During the inspection, NMA surveyors measured the sulphur content of the ship’s fuel to be 0.17 %.

The maximum allowed sulphur content under the new regulations is 0.10%.

Tracking of the vessel’s AIS signal shows that the vessel made ports of call at both Eidfjord and Flåm in the days prior to the port of call at Geiranger, both of which are located within the North Sea ECA. The ship arrived at Eidfjord from Tilbury, England, where it left port on April 13.

“Our documentation shows that the ships has entered two world heritage fjords with sulphur values far beyond the legal limit values,” says Bjørn Pedersen, Head of Department of Legislation and International Relations in the NMA.

As a result of the violation, Global Cruise Lines has been handed a notice of a violation fine of 700,000 NOK (approximately $US80,000). The fine also marks the first time the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) has given a notice of a violation fine as a result of the new rules.

“The extent of the violation is significant in this case, where a ship has sailed a considerable distance within the emission control area using a fuel with an excessive sulphur content,” the NMA said in a statement. “Furthermore, as an aggravating factor, emphasis is put on the fact that the new rules concerning the world heritage fjords were violated. Overall, this implies that violation fines at a historic high level are imposed on the company.”