Shipowner associations issue sulphur cap submissions

The world’s leading shipowning organisations have co-sponsored a number of submissions to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) ahead of a key meeting next month to thrash out technical details for the January 1, 2020 global 0.5% sulphur cap on shipping fuel.

These submissions from Intercargo, Intertanko, the World Shipping Council, Bimco and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) include papers on a standard format for a ship specific implementation plan with many actions ships may need to consider for achieving compliance but also a call for a practical and pragmatic approach from IMO member states when verifying compliance with the 0.50% global sulphur cap. The organisations have also sought solutions on safety implications associated with 2020 fuels and their respective challenges as well as filing a draft standard for reporting on fuel oil non-availability. On top of that there are proposals for amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to require sampling points for fuel oil; and verification issues and control mechanism and actions.

In a release, the associations said the worldwide implementation of this “game-changing new regulatory regime” will be far more complex than the previous introduction of sulphur Emission Control Areas for shipping not least because of the “sheer magnitude of the switchover and the quantities and different types of fuel involved”.

In 2015, ships trading in ECAs primarily changed to ISO 8217 distillate fuel oils. But in 2020, as well as using distillates to comply with the 0.5% sulphur cap, many ships will have to use blended fuel oils and new products which are outside of the ISO 8217 standard.

The shipowning bodies asked for authorities to show some leniency in the first few months of the cap’s implementation.

“With the scale of the technical challenges involved and the likelihood of teething problems, it will be important for port state control authorities to exercise a pragmatic and realistic approach to enforce compliance during the initial months of the global switchover, which will come into effect at the stroke of midnight in just 18 months’ time,” the organisations stated.

Last month, Esben Poulsson, the ICS chairman, warned of the potential for chaos come the start of 2020.

Poulsson said that shipowners still have no idea what types of fuel will be available or at what price, specification or in what quantity.

“Unless everyone gets to grips with this quickly we could be faced with an unholy mess with ships and cargo being stuck in port,” he warned, in a point of view supported by than 80% of Splash voters in an ongoing poll carried on this site.

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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