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Opening and maintaining a maritime operator holding account (MOHA) in Spain (EU ETS)

Posted: 11/04/2024

The introduction of the European Commission's Delegated Regulation (EU) 2023/2904 on 25 October 2023 has led to the inclusion of the maritime sector in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

As from 1 January 2024, EU and non-EU shipping companies with vessels of more than 5000 GTs are required to purchase emission allowances covering:

  • 100% of emissions from voyages between EU ports, or generated by vessels in EU ports; and
  • 50% of emissions from vessels on voyages between EU ports and non-EU ports. 

For the time being, vessels between 400 GTs and 5000 GTs are exempted from applying for this scheme, although the European Commission foresees the possibility of extending its reach from the end of 2024 or early 2025.

The EU legislation provides for a broad definition of shipping companies, which includes shipowners/registered owners or any other organisation or person, such as the manager or bareboat charterer, who has assumed (on behalf of, or by agreement with the shipowner/registered owner) the responsibility for the operation of the vessel and of all of the duties and liabilities imposed by the ISM Code.

The purchase and submission of emission allowances is carried out through a holding account (credits and debits) that the obligated parties under the EU ETS scheme must open as holders (a MOHA – maritime operator holding account) in the so-called Union Registry, through the national registries managed by the authorities of each member state. To this end, the European Commission has established rules that assign the various shipping companies to a specific national authority, to which they must apply.

The relevant authority in Spain is the Spanish Climate Change Office (Oficina Española de Cambio Climático), which depends on the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Ministerio Para la Transición Ecológica y el Reto Demográfico), which in turn manages the National Registry of Greenhouse Gas Emission Allowances (Registro Nacional de Derechos de Emisión de Gases de Efecto Invernadero – RENADE), where the obligated parties must open the corresponding holding account.

It should be noted that shipping companies obliged under the EU ETS must open the holding account no later than:

  • 40 working days after the publication (on 31 January 2024) of the allocation list to a particular national authority; or, failing that
  • within 65 working days after the date on which the EU ETS mechanism becomes applicable to a particular ship or voyage (as set out above).

Although EU regulations establish uniform registration rules for all member states, the particularities existing in each country mean that the specific requirements for the registration and opening of the above-mentioned holding account in different jurisdictions should be considered.  

Our firm has expert lawyers in Spain (as well as in several EU jurisdictions) and we will be pleased to assist you should you need to set up a maritime operator holding account. If you require guidance, please contact any of the team members of our Madrid office listed above.

A version of this article in Spanish is available here.

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