ICS Calls for "Realistic Approach" to Sulfur Cap Rollout

Bunker barge alongside a freighter (file image)

By The Maritime Executive 2018-06-18 16:08:03

On Monday, the shipping industry's major trade associations issued a statement calling on IMO to finalize details of the 2020 sulfur cap rollout, and they suggested that port states should take a pragmatic approach to enforcement. 

The associations - including BIMCO, ICS, Intercargo, Intertanko and WSC - asked IMO member states to consider suggestions on:

- a "practical and pragmatic approach" from IMO member states when verifying compliance with the 0.50 percent global sulfur cap;

- safety implications associated with 2020 fuels and their respective challenges;

- a draft standard for reporting on fuel oil non-availability;

- proposals for amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to require sampling points for fuel oil; and

- verification issues, control mechanism and actions.

While the associations said that they welcome the sulfur cap and the environmental benefits it will bring, they warned that the rollout will be complex due to the massive number of ships affected and the expected shift in fuel supply requirements. Notably, many ships will have to use new blended fuel products that do not conform to any existing ISO standard. If these newly-formulated bunkers turn out to be incompatible, it could lead to loss of power and serious safety issues. 

The shipping and refining industries have been aware of the 2020 implementation date for the sulfur cap since 2016. However, despite the long lead time for implementation, the associations suggested that there will likely be technical issues with the rollout. Given the teething difficulties of ensuring an adequate fuel supply, "it will be important for port state control authorities to exercise a pragmatic and realistic approach to enforce compliance" during the initial months of 2020, they asserted.