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Shipping associations urge pragmatic approach to IMO 2020 sulfur compliance

Five shipping associations have called on the International Maritime Organization to adopt a pragmatic approach when enforcing compliance with its global sulfur cap of 0.5% in marine fuels to avoid compromising safety or unfairly penalizing individual ships.

Unlike in 2015, where ships entering Emission Control Areas primarily changed to ISO 8217 distillate fuel oils to meet the 0.1% sulfur limit, a number of ships from January 1, 2020 will use blended fuel oils and new products which fall outside the ISO 8217 standard, said BIMCO, International Chamber of Shipping, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO and World Shipping Council in a statement Monday.

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

“On top of the absence of global standards for many of the new blended fuels that oil refiners have promised, there are potentially serious safety issues, including those related to the use of compliant but incompatible bunkers. As an example, if bunkers turn out to be incompatible it could lead to loss of power on the ship,” they added.

The shipping associations called on port state control authorities to exercise a “pragmatic and realistic approach to enforce compliance” during the initial months of the global switchover as the likelihood of technical challenges during this period is expected to be high.

To help smooth the implementation of the global sulfur cap, which drops to 0.5% in 2020 from the current 3.5%, the five shipping associations have submitted a number of proposals to the IMO ahead of a key IMO meeting in London next month.

These include a draft standard for reporting on fuel oil non-availability and proposed amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to require sampling points for fuel oil, and safety implications associated with 2020 fuels and their respective challenges.
Source: Platts

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