The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted an amendment to its forthcoming 0.5% limit on sulphur in ships fuel oil, designed to prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil.
The move is hoped to boost the outlook for LNG-fuelled ships when it enters into force on 1 March 2020 under IMO's ‘tacit acceptance’ procedure. The amendment will limit the carriage of fuel oil for propulsion or operation on board a ship unless the ship has an exhaust gas cleaning system.
While installation of a scrubber is accepted by flag States as an alternative means to meet the sulphur limit this approach can often be costlier than LNG in the long term, strengthening the economic argument for wider LNG use.
EBP phase resolution
The IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) also sought to draw a line under discussions for a proposed experience-building phase (EBP) last month.
The EBP aims examine global compliance measures and availability of compliant fuel following implementation of the 0.5 sulphur cap and following the MEPC 73’s plenary meeting at the end of October, MEPC committee chair Hideaki Saito invited submissions of further ‘concrete’ proposals ahead of the committee’s next meeting in May 2019.
The EBP proposals will focus on how to ‘enhance’ the provisions of regulation 18 of MARPOL Annex VI, in particular on fuel oil quality and reporting of non-availability of compliant fuel oils
“The consensus agreement reached at IMO on Wednesday to ask for a concrete proposal to strengthen the implementation of MARPOL Annex VI, regulation 18, is very satisfactory to BIMCO… The MEPC has furthermore rejected attempts to defer adoption of the ban on carriage of non-compliant fuel, and adoption of this new regulation is expected to take place later this week. BIMCO has worked for a carriage ban, and is pleased that it is going to be adopted,” a statement from the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) states.
Necessary additions for IMO GISIS
BIMCO has been one of the main sponsors of EBP measures along with support from the U.S. The proposal will now seek to establish the necessary additions to the IMO GISIS modules for holding data from the experience ships gain with regard to fuel oil availability and fuel quality.
The issue has proven divisive with supporters citing ‘misconceptions’ regarding the proposal and clarifying solutions in “instances where a ship is not able to achieve compliance due to fuel non-availability and fuel quality problems”.
This aspect is expected to be of concern to LNG-fuelled vessel operators as LNG bunkering infrastructure as yet remains immature in many regions.