No cap backtracking, IMO stresses as calls for leniency grow

With an assortment of influential shipping bodies and registers calling for leniency in the first months of applying the global sulphur cap in 15 months’ time, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has once again vowed there will be no delay to the cap’s implementation.

“I can categorically say there will not be a delay,” Edmund Hughes, the head of air pollution and energy efficiency at the IMO, said during the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC) in Singapore yesterday, in quotes reported by Reuters.

“A delay to the regulation would damage the IMO’s reputation and credibility as a rule-making body for international shipping and would lead to more regional and national action to control air pollution from ships,” Hughes added.

A paper submitted to the IMO by four of the world’s largest registers – Bahamas, Liberia, Marshall Islands and Panama along with shipping organisations BIMCO, INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO has called for leniency in dishing out fines as the cap comes into effect. The document, seen by Bloomberg, calls for an “experience building phase”, in the months after the January 1, 2020 cap implementation, whereby ships should not be “unduly penalized” if they cannot get the right fuel.

The proposal will be discussed at an IMO meeting in London next month.

“The goal is to gain experience in the use of these new fuels and to ensure that unsafe fuels do not enter the market in response to availability pressures,” the proposal said.

Commenting on the proposal, Simon Bennett, deputy secretary general at the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) told Splash: “No one is calling for a postponement of the 2020 implementation date which is set in stone, or the provisional date of the carriage ban for non-compliant fuels which the industry originally proposed and which, subject to confirmation by IMO in October, is expected to be March 1 2020. ICS is nevertheless sympathetic to the serious issues raised in the Marshall Islands et al paper to IMO about the safety and compatibility of compliant fuels ‪after 1 January 2020 , and the urgent need for these issues to be addressed by IMO Member States at the MEPC meeting in October and the next Maritime Safety Committee in December.”

ICS did not co-sponsor the paper doing the rounds at the moment, but it is currently liaising with its members on the detailed positions which it will be taking at the MEPC meeting next month.

“ICS will continue to push, with the other international associations, for a pragmatic approach to Port State Control enforcement immediately ‪after 1 January 2020 for those ships which can demonstrate in all good faith they have done everything possible to comply should safe and compatible fuels not be available in every port worldwide,” Bennett told Splash.

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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