Greek owners cast doubt about 2020 compliance

The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) has warned that tramp shipping remains at risk come the January 1, 2020 introduction of the global sulphur cap. The boss of the world’s largest national shipowning association has also cast doubt on the effectiveness of scrubbers to meet the goals set out by the impending IMO legislation.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the uncertainties regarding the availability and supply of MARPOL compliant fuels which are also SOLAS compliant, safe, fit-for-purpose and available worldwide, particularly in the bulk/tramp sector,” the president of the UGS, Theodore Veniamis stated in a release yesterday, adding: “The option of achieving compliance through continued combustion of high-sulphur fuels with installed scrubbers, which in any case has questionable net environmental benefit, is the exception to the rule, especially in this sector due to its fundamental operational characteristics.”

Bulk/tramp shipping which represents more than 83% of the world’s seaborne trade in cargo ton-miles and in which Greek shipping is primarily involved is by nature itinerant, the UGS pointed out in the release. Tramp shipping’s modus operandi does not allow for contractual arrangements to be made with refineries and bunkering facilities at specific ports, as may be the case in other shipping sectors characterised by the regularity of their itineraries and the frequency of their sailings. Moreover, the UGS argues that a lack of international standardisation – ISO standards for the new type of compliant fuel will not be ready for January 1, 2020 – only adds to the complexity and compounds the problems.

“Post 2020, ships involved in bulk/tramp shipping will, in all likelihood, have to bunker untested and diverse fuel blends from different sources around the world, which are especially problematic, as the surge of fuel contamination instances has already indicated,” UGS stated.

The responsibility of the marine bunker supply chain cannot be shifted onto ship operators and crews, UGS urged.

“The UN IMO should not allow a trade-off between formal compliance and the safety of ships, crews and protection of the environment,” Veniamis concluded.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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