MEPC 74 Adopts Sulfur Cap Guidance


Published May 20, 2019 6:33 PM by The Maritime Executive

The IMO's Marine Environmental Protection Committee has adopted guidelines to support the consistent implementation of the sulfur cap which will enter into effect from January 1, 2020. 

The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), meeting for its 74th session (May 13-17): 
• Adopted guidelines for consistent implementation of the 0.50 percent sulfur limit under MARPOL Annex VI  - with sections on the impact on fuel and machinery systems resulting from new fuel blends or fuel types; verification issues and control mechanism and actions, including port state control and samples of fuel oil used on board; a standard reporting format for fuel oil non-availability (fuel oil non-availability report (FONAR); and possible safety implications relating to fuel oils meeting the 0.50 percent sulfur limit.

• Adopted guidelines for port state control under MARPOL Annex VI Chapter 3, providing updated enforcement guidance for provisions including regulation 13 “nitrogen oxides” and regulation 14 “sulfur oxides and particulate matter.”

• Approved guidance on indication of ongoing compliance in the case of the failure of a single monitoring instrument and recommended actions to take if the exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber) fails to meet the provision of the guidelines.

• Approved guidance for port state control on contingency measures for addressing non-compliant fuel oil. The guidance covers possible actions to be taken, following discussions between ship, flag State and port state, when a ship is found to have non-compliant fuel oil either as a consequence of compliant fuel oil being not available when the ship bunkered fuel oil or the ship identifying through post bunkering testing that the fuel oil on board is non-compliant.

• Approved the guidelines for onboard sampling for the verification of the sulfur content of the fuel oil used on board ships.

• Approved an MSC-MEPC circular on Delivery of compliant fuel oil by suppliers, subject to approval by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 101) in June. The draft circular says that members states should urge fuel oil suppliers to take into account, as relevant: MEPC.1/Circ.875 guidance on best practice for fuel oil purchasers/users for assuring the quality of fuel oil used on board ships; and MEPC.1/Circ.875/Add.1 guidance on best practice for fuel oil suppliers for assuring the quality of fuel oil delivered to ships.

The MEPC had already approved guidance on the development of a ship implementation plan for the consistent implementation of the 0.50 percent sulfur limit under MARPOL Annex VI (MEPC.1/Circ. 878).  

A related MARPOL Annex VI amendment to prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil used by ships, which was adopted last year, is expected to enter into force on March 1, 2020.

The MEPC also approved a circular to encourage early application of the approved amendments to the verification procedures for a MARPOL Annex VI fuel oil sample.

The outcome of the monitoring of the worldwide average sulfur content of marine fuel oils supplied for use on board ships for 2018, based on three sampling and testing service providers, indicates that the worldwide average sulfur content (i.e. three-year rolling average) of residual fuel oil was 2.59 percent and for distillate fuel oil it was 0.08 percent.