IMO 2020 capped by coronavirus, stretched authorities ditch fuel checks

Less than three months after being introduced the global sulphur cap risks being another victim of the coronavirus with news from the UK where authorities have publicly admitted they have stopped checking for compliant fuel.

Reuters reported on Friday that the UK has suspended checks on ships for compliance with low sulphur fuel regulations as part of wider measures that cut back on inspections to reduce the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on supply chains.

“In terms of enforcing IMO 2020 and ultimately MARPOL Annex VI requirements, as we have suspended port state control inspections, this also means that the checking of compliant fuel has been suspended,” a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) spokeswoman told Reuters.

The MCA also said it had suspended ship survey and inspection activity, and relaxed rules such as extensions on ship certificates – all needed to enter ports.

“While we can’t compromise on safety, there are a number of temporary measures we have and are taking to ensure shipping doesn’t come to a standstill and seafarers can keep working,” Katy Ware, MCA director of maritime safety and standards, said in a statement last week.

Contacts in port state positions in Asia and Europe have told Splash that similar leniency towards sulphur cap checks are being discussed.

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.


  1. Sam, this is not a suspension in the sulphur cap is it? But a suspension in immediate measures to ensure ship owners and operators are complying. We should be encouraging them to do so without the need for inspections. Keep up the good work!

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