Denmark turns to drones for sulphur compliance

Denmark is no stranger to sulphur caps. The country has been enforcing a 0.1% sulphur limit on vessel emissions since 2015. It has now sought help from the European Union to better monitor its waters.

The Danish Maritime Authority says the drone will patrol the area north of the Great Belt.

Denmark already uses sniffer technology for emissions monitoring.

Denmark is turning to drone technology to monitor compliance with and enforce sulphur emissions rules in its waters.

The Nordic country has been part of the North Sea emissions control area that limits sulphur content in vessel emissions to 0.1% since 2015. The global 0.5% sulphur cap will come into effect on 1 January, 2020.

The Danish Maritime Authority (DMA) said it would use a “sniffer” drone belonging to the European Maritime Safety Authority. It is unclear for how long Denmark has requested the drone and why it has requested it now. The DMA did not immediately respond to calls from Lloyd’s List.

The drone launched its first mission on 11 April, and will monitor the region north of the Great Belt strait where the DMA said a lot of tankers pass to get to and return from the Baltic Sea.

According to the DMA, the data recorded by the sniffer becomes immediately available to Danish authorities.

“The project will contribute to a more efficient enforcement of the sulphur rules, thereby ensuring fair competition for shipping companies and less pollution from ships,” the DMA said in a statement.

These EU drones are not the first sniffer tool that Denmark has used to enforce compliance with the 0.1% cap. Sniffers have been installed on the Golden Belt Bridge and as well as on some helicopters patrolling the sea.

In December 2018, the Danish government also agreed to publish the names of firms whose vessels emissions surpassed the 0.5% sulphur content mark.

Danish Maritime Authority special adviser Clea Henrichsen said in November 2018 that the country had seen a 95% compliance rate and a 50% decline in sulphur content in the air since the SECA came into effect.

At that time there had been nine violations in 2018 and 30 in total and the country had issued 10 fines for non-compliance, which typically range from DKK 30,000 (€5,000) to DKK 75,000 (€10,000).