IMO’s latest bunker ruling could boost scrubber adoption

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed to move forward with a prohibition on the carriage of fuel oil for use onboard ships, when that fuel oil is not compliant with a new low sulphur limit which comes into force from 2020.  The detail of the new ruling however could provide a much needed boost to scrubber manufacturers around the world.

The 0.50% limit on sulphur in fuel oil onboard ships  – outside designated emission control areas or ECAs, where the limit is 0.10% – will come into effect on 1 January 2020.

To help ensure consistent implementation of this regulation, IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR), which met last week at IMO headquarters in London, agreed draft amendments to the MARPOL Convention on the prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL Annex VI) to prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil, such that the sulphur content of any fuel oil used or carried for use onboard ships shall not exceed 0.50%.

The exception would be for ships fitted with an approved “equivalent arrangement” to meet the sulphur limit – such as a scrubber  – which are already permitted under regulation 4.1 of MARPOL Annex VI. These arrangements can be used with “heavy” high sulphur fuel oil as EGCS clean the emissions and therefore can be accepted as being at least as effective at meeting the required sulphur limit. For a ship without an approved equivalent arrangement the sulphur content of any fuel oil carried for use on board shall not exceed 0.50%.

Under regulation 3.2 of MARPOL Annex VI a ship undertaking trials for ship emission reduction and control technology research can be exempted by the administration of a party to Annex VI.

The sub-committee forwarded the proposed draft amendments to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 72) meeting in April 2018, for urgent consideration. Once approved by MEPC 72, the draft amendments could be adopted at MEPC 73 (October 2018) and could enter into force on 1 March 2020 just two months after the 0.50% limit comes into effect.

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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