June 25, 2024 | Circular No. 11679

Dear Member,

As previously reported, the use of HFO as a fuel (and carriage of HFO for use as a fuel) will be prohibited in Arctic waters, including Canadian Arctic waters, as of July 1, 2024. ShipFed staff dedicated a significant amount of time to this file over the past year, with a view to ensuring that Transport Canada provide appropriate compliance information Canadian waters, and so that the compliance regime reflects operational realities. This Circular Letter includes information as guidance on the following:

  • Background/ Purpose of the HFO Ban
  • What the prohibition entails
  • Canada’s compliance regime

Background/ Purpose:

Concerns about HFO use in the Arctic fall into two categories:

1) A spill of HFO would be very difficult to clean up in the challenging Arctic. It would be a long-term task, and the impacts on the environment and Arctic inhabitants could be dramatic.

2) Burning HFO in the Arctic is a powerful short-term driver of climate change. ‘Black carbon’ (commonly known as soot) is created by burning HFO. Because it is dark in color, when soot settles on snow or ice, it absorbs energy from sunlight and speeds up polar ice melt. Climate change is a particular problem in the Arctic, which is seeing temperatures rise three times as fast as the global average.

Use and carriage of HFO has been banned in Antarctic waters since 2011.

What the prohibition entails:

HFO use, and carriage for use as a fuel, will be prohibited in Arctic waters as of 1 July 2024. See CL 11576 for clarification concerning LSFO and VLSFO.

What the prohibition does not include:

Carriage of HFO as cargo (i.e, by tankers).

Canada’s Compliance Regime

Residual amounts of HFO
  • When prior operations have included HFO use fuel, the cleaning or flushing of tanks or pipelines is not required (per MARPOL Annex I, Regulation 43A). “Empty tank” is defined in the TC Policy document, link below.
  • HFO in day tanks less than 30m3 that are used exclusively to facilitate safe and practical fuel changeover, is allowed (per TC Policy document).
Temporary Exemptions
  • Certain ships with protected fuel tanks have until July 1, 2029 to comply with the HFO prohibition:
    1. Ships that MARPOL Annex I Regulation 12A applies to (i.e., ships delivered on or after 1 August 2010 with a combined oil fuel capacity greater than 600 cubic metres), and
    2. Ships that regulation 1.2.1 of Chapter 1 of Part II-A of the Polar Code applies to (i.e., ships constructed on or after 1 January 2017 that have a aggregate oil fuel capacity of less than 600 m3).
  • Countries with borders within the Arctic may temporarily waive this MARPOL regulation for vessels flying their flag. As such, Canadian domestic vessels involved in northern resupply may apply a temporary via the MPRB process.
Demonstrating Eligibility for 1 July 2029 application date – vessels with protected fuel tanks

IOPPC Form A will be accepted by Transport Canada to demonstrate eligibility for the 2029 application date under MARPOL Annex I Regulation 43A(2).

Further Information

Transport Canada has issued a Ship Safety Bulletin (SSB) and a Policy document. These government documents remain the official source of information for compliance purposes.

The prohibition will be implemented in Canada by July 1, 2024 via an Interim Order (IO) Prohibiting the Carrying of Certain Oils on Board Vessels in Arctic Waters, with a view to eventual incorporation into Canada’s Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulations.

Please contact the undersigned with questions.


Miako Ushio
Director Environmental Affairs