Sulphur cap experience-building phase on hold

Europe – with the notable exception of Malta – held firm yesterday in discussions at the headquarters of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to put plans for a so-called experience-building phase to the impending global sulphur cap on hold.

The experience-building phase – the hot topic at the IMO this week – is not designed to push back the 2020 cap implementation date, its sponsors have stressed. The move is designed instead to be a data-gathering period to give greater transparency and detailed information on compliance for an unspecified period after January 1, 2020. The idea was co-sponsored by the Bahamas, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Panama, BIMCO, Intercargo and Intertanko, and has since gained strong support from the US.

After discussing the proposal on Tuesday and Wednesday Hideaki Saito, chairman of the IMO-convened 73rd gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) said that there was no clear majority in favour of the proposal and that the best plan of action would be to better define what this experience-building phase would consititute. Saito said the proposal as it stood was confusing and vague. It remained unclear whether the proposal was now dead in the water, with IMO officials hinting that it could be revisited at the next MEPC meeting in May 2019.

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.


  1. Another three line whip from the EU!
    Despite professing to always be “pragmatic and practical” in their approach many EU states appear to adopt an arbitrary, non-evidenced, approach and to be dismissive of the data and experience provide by the majority of the world’s shipbuilders, designers and operators. It is tempting to ask where “competence” in these matters exists, only in Brussels or elsewhere as well?

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