The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has swiftly moved to quash the latest efforts to slow down or derail implementation of the global sulphur cap, which is due to start in just over one month.
Ioannis Plakiotakis, the Greek minister of maritime affairs and insular policy, caused a stir on Monday afternoon when addressing the 31st IMO assembly opening session, when like the Union of Greek Shipowners earlier, he suggested the sulphur cap ought to be delayed over safety fears. The IMO has since moved fast to say that there is no chance that the regulation – the largest new shipping legislation in a generation – can be delayed.
Telling delegates he did not want to be viewed as Kassandra, the Greek ancient princess who was the prophet of doom, Plakiotakis, who’s had the maritime position for a matter of months, said: “We are yet to be confronted with the full scale reality of the availability, compatibility and safety challenges and grave risks of the new marine low sulphur fuel oils, especially blended ones.”
Plakiotakis said he feared disruptions to world trade and fatalities from the incoming fuel transition.
In order to overcome the problems associated with the fuel switch Plakiotakis said IMO should consider a postponement of the sulphur cap.
Other countries – including the US, Russia, India and Indonesia – have voiced similar concerns over the last year. There are now just 35 days until the start of the sulphur cap.