Fixed remote surveillance of fuel sulfur content in ships from fixed sites in the Göteborg ship channel and Öresund bridge
Report, 2017

In 2015 new rules from the IMO and legislation from EU (Sulfur directive) and the US requires ships to run with maximum fuel sulfur content (FSC) of 0.1 % m/m in northern European and North American waters. In order to promote a level playing field within the shipping sector, there is a need for measurement systems that can make effective compliance control and this is the main objective of the CompMon project, funded through the European CEF program (Connecting Europe Facility). As part of this project, an automatic sniffer sensor system has been applied in the Göteborg ship channel at the Älvsborg island during 3 years (2014- 2016) and at the Öresund Bridge during two months at the end of 2016. The typical distances from the ships here varied between 500 -1000 m. The sniffer system is based on several extractive instruments measuring concentrations of SO2 and CO2 and others species, such as NOx, in the ship emission plumes that drift over the measurement station. In addition to fixed stations, the system can also be used from mobile platforms such as harbor patrol vessels and aircraft. From the data above, together with information about the ships from AIS (Automatic Identification System) and wind data, the FSC is automatically calculated and the ship is identi- fied. This is done using software developed as part of this project (Single Emitter identification Tool).

The measurement precision (1σ) of the sniffer system is approx. 0.04 % m/m for ships using a FSC of 0.1 % m/m. The sniffer system also has a negative bias in the measured FSC, varying between 0.04 % to 0.08 % m/m and this is accounted for when calculating the threshold for non-compliance. Based on the above, it is possible to identify ships with FSC above 0.18 % m/m with 95% confidence limit, if the bias is corrected for statistically. For the measurements at the Älvsborg island site in 2014 and 2015, the corresponding limit is higher, 0.29 % m/m, due to a measurement artifact that was eliminated in 2016. On board measurements in 2015 and 2016 by the Swedish port state control authority shows that most non-compliant ships had FSCs be- tween 0.1 % to 0.2 % m/m when controlled at berth and this is generally below the 95% confidence limit threshold of the sniffer. Therefore many non-compliant ships will not be detected when using the sniffer close to harbors and a more precise sensor is therefore preferred.

The measurements at the Älvsborg island were carried out during a time period when the allowed FSC limit changed significantly. The data for 2014, corresponding to more than 4000 measurements of 500 individual ships, shows that 99 % of the ships were using compliant fuel below the FSC limit of 1 % m/m. In 2015 the FSC limit changed to 0.1 % m/m. The measurements in 2015 and 2016, corresponding to the same amount of ships as in 2014, showed that 91.5 % and 98 %, respectively, were using compliant fuel with respect to FSC. The lower compliance rate in 2015 compared to 2016 is potentially influenced by measurement artifacts that were later eliminated in 2016. At the Öresund Bridge. 58 ships were measured as part of the CompMon pro- ject. The measurements continued another month with support from the interreg project Envisum, with anoth- er 62 ships measured. The compliance level at the Öresund Bridge corresponds to 98 %. This is actually com- parable to the corresponding measurements elsewhere and at the Älvsborg island site during the same time period.


EU sulfur directive



Sulfur surveillance



Johan Mellqvist

Microwave and Optical Remote Sensing

Alexander Vladimir Conde Jacobo

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Optical Remote Sensing

Jörg Beecken

Microwave and Optical Remote Sensing

Johan Ekholm

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Optical Remote Sensing

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance


Subject Categories

Biomedical Laboratory Science/Technology

Marine Engineering

Control Engineering





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