IMO hails ‘relatively smooth’ start to the global sulphur cap

International Maritime Organization secretary-general Kitack Lim has hailed the start of the global sulphur cap as a smooth, successful process.

From January 1, ships trading around the world have had to use fuel with 0.5% sulphur content or operate exhaust gas cleaning systems.

Despite Splash hearing of legal cases piling up over all manner of fuel issues, the IMO said in a release the fuel switch, shipping’s largest regulation change so far this century, had been “relatively smooth”.

Lim, who has shepherded the sulphur cap into existence since taking the IMO top job four years ago, said yesterday: “I believe it is testimony to the diligence and dedication of IMO, its member states, the shipping industry, the fuel supply industry and other relevant industries that such a major rule change is being implemented successfully without significant disruption to maritime transport and those that depend on it.”

Lim went on to warn that the next important target is fast approaching, when carrying non-compliant fuel oil onboard ships becomes prohibited on March 1.

Troubles with both quality and quantity of the new low sulphur fuel have been reported across most of the world’s top bunkering hubs over the past month.

Beth Bradley, a partner at law firm Hill Dickinson, commented in a release last month that the current marine fuel supply situation is looking like the “perfect storm” for litigators.

“There are a great number of issues which may radically impact on the liability situation. It’s gearing up to the perfect storm for litigators,” Bradley said.

Hill Dickinson has recommended that time charterparties and related bunker supply contracts should contain carefully worded provisions to clarify bunker specifications, sampling procedures and how the potential loss of time owing to inspections and de-bunkering operations is to be shared.

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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