ESPO urges Parliament and Council to come clean


The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) has urged that the European Parliament and Council come to agreement on a Clean Fuel Strategy prior to the EU elections.

This comes in lieu with the so-called “trilogue” being held today to reach a compromise over an outline for the Clean Fuel Strategy and iron out any outstanding issues.

Whilst a second “trilogue” has been arranged in two weeks if the current one fails to bring resolution, ESPO, who fully support the initiative, have urged the need for success, as the strategy can then be endorsed by the European Parliament before elections.

In a statement by ESPO secretary-general Isabelle Ryckbost the group make note of the proposal’s importance to promote alternative fuels and reduce the environmental footprint generated by the maritime sector.

“We hope that this strategy is finalised soon, in view of giving the different stakeholders a clear sign on where to go and allowing them to start or continue working towards that goal.”

“We therefore urge the Parliament and the Council to do everything possible to reach a first reading agreement”

Two of the issues under discussion concern seaports in particular. Firstly, in finalising a deadline in which key ports must successfully install LNG refuelling points, and secondly, the conditions under which shore side electricity has to be provided in ports.

So far, both European ports, and both the Parliament and Council are in agreement to the deployment of LNG refuelling points in core TEN-T ports. ESPO believes that locations should be arranged after taking market realities and distances between ports in to account.

ESPO also openly supports that such a network should be installed before 2020, with the arrival of the Sulphur Directive – a worldwide initiative in which sulphur emissions will be limited to 0.5 percent.

In regards to shore side electricity, ESPO seems less adamant for the setting of any deadlines or dates. This comes primarily after active support and use of the power source by European ports in recent years, without any regulatory obligation.

Furthermore, whilst ESPO sees that the benefits exceed the costs to harness the alternative source, it notes that the shipping community must see this alternative as a “pillar” of a more comprehensive fuel strategy, stating a need for ports to look at the full picture and look at this technology in combination with LNG and other solutions.

If, as a result of assessment it appears that shore side electricity is a more viable solution for a port, ESPO recommends that they do not wait for a deadline, but rather immediately act.

Isabelle adds: “The aim of this Strategy should be to push ports to reflect as soon as possible on their way to enhance the use of cleaner fuels.

Shore side electricity is certainly one of the pillars of such a strategy and reflection. If cost-effective and wherever it comes out as the best environmental solution, it should be installed. But we should not see this technology in isolation.

For berths where only LNG fuelled ships are arriving, such a technology is completely redundant. It is also clear that technologies in the field are evolving constantly. We should give ports the possibility to adapt to and invest in those as well.”

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