Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
An amendment to support consistent implementation of the forthcoming 0.50% limit on sulphur in ships fuel oil was adopted by the IMO on 26 October during the organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 73).
The new 0.50% limit (reduced from 3.50% currently) on sulphur in ships’ fuel oil will be in force from 1 January 2020, under IMO’s MARPOL treaty, with benefits for the environment and human health, it is understood.
In a briefing kindly provided on 30 October with the accompanying illustration (IMO ©) IMO informed that the complementary MARPOL amendment will prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil for combustion purposes for propulsion or operation on board a ship – unless the ship has an exhaust gas cleaning system (or scrubber) fitted. Installing a scrubber is accepted by flag States as an alternative means to meet the sulphur limit requirement.
Furthermore, it was reported that the complementary amendment is expected to enter into force on 1 March 2020.
This amendment does not change in any way the entry into force date of the 0.50% limit from 1 January 2020. It is intended as an additional measure to support consistent implementation and compliance and provide a means for effective enforcement by States, particularly port State control.
In continuation of the briefing IMO made it clear that most ships are expected to utilize new blends of fuel oil which will be produced to meet the 0.50% limit on sulphur. Currently, the maximum sulphur limit in fuel oil is 3.50% globally (and 0.10 % in the four Emission Control Areas (ECAs). These are: the Baltic Sea area; the North Sea area; the North American area (covering designated coastal areas off the United States and Canada); and the United States Caribbean Sea area (around Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands)).
Ship implementation planning guidance approved
To assist ship operators and owners to plan ahead for the 0.50% sulphur 2020 limit, the MEPC approved guidance on ship implementation planning. This guidance is part of a set of guidelines being developed by IMO for consistent implementation of the MARPOL regulation due to come into effect from 1 January 2020.
The ship implementation planning guidance includes sections on:
Best practice guidance approved
The MEPC also approved Guidance on best practice for fuel oil suppliers.
The Guidance on best practice for fuel oil suppliers is intended to assist fuel oil purchasers and users in assuring the quality of fuel oil delivered to and used on board ships, with respect to both compliance with the MARPOL requirements and the safe and efficient operation of the ship. The guidance pertains to aspects of the fuel oil purchase up to the loading of the purchased fuel oil on board.
Enhancing provisions on fuel oil quality and reporting of non-availability of compliant fuel oils
Following a discussion related to a proposal on gaining experience in meeting the new lower sulphur limit, the Committee invited concrete proposals to the next MEPC 74 session (May 2019) on how to enhance the implementation of regulation 18 MARPOL Annex VI which covers fuel oil quality and availability.
On fuel oil availability, the regulation requires each Party to ‘take all reasonable steps to promote the availability of fuel oils which comply with this Annex and inform the Organization of the availability of compliant fuel oils in its ports and terminals’. Parties are also required to notify IMO when a ship has presented evidence of the non-availability of compliant fuel oil.
Parties to MARPOL Annex VI are urged to inform the Organization of the availability of compliant fuel oils in its ports and terminals via the IMO Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) MARPOL Annex VI module well in advance of 1 January 2020, in accordance with regulation 18.1 of MARPOL Annex VI.
IMO sulphur 2020
The new lower 0.50% limit on sulphur in ships’ fuel oil will be in force from 1 January 2020, under IMO’s MARPOL treaty, with benefits for the environment and human health.
A study on the human health impacts of sulphur oxides (SOx) emissions from ships, submitted to IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in 2016 estimated that by not reducing the SOx limit for ships from 2020, the air pollution from ships would contribute to more than 570,000 additional premature deaths worldwide between 2020-2025.
It will be seen that a reduction in the limit for sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships will have tangible health benefits, particularly for populations living close to ports and major shipping routes.
The new limit will be applicable globally – while in designated emission control areas (ECAs) the limit will remain even lower, at 0.10%.
The 1 January 2020 implementation date was adopted in 2008 and confirmed by
IMO in October 2016, giving certainty to refineries, bunkering and shipping sectors.
IMO has been working with Member States and the industry to support implementation of the new limit. Enforcement, compliance with and monitoring of the new sulphur limit is the remit and responsibility of States Party to MARPOL Annex VI.
On 13 November speaking in Tokyo on behalf of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), its Chairman, Esben Poulsson, highlighted serious concerns about the challenge presented by the United States.
In his words: ‘To the proven benefits of multilateralism and the existing global trading order underpinned by a system of international rules and norms which has brought peace and prosperity since World War Two’.
He added: ‘The view that international trade can be seen as some kind of zero sum game is demonstrably false.’
Poulsson acknowledged that the US has legitimate concerns about the policies of some of its trading partners, concerns which to some extent ICS also shares, particularly with regard to China and South Korea’s possible contribution towards overcapacity in shipping.
The IMO regulation that sets out preventive security measures on detecting and deterring threats to ships and port facilities – the ISPS Code* – was the subject of a training workshop that took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from 5-9 November.
This workshop was initiated as a means of assistance to potential Designated Authority (DA) and Port Facility Security Officers (PFSOs) to improve their knowledge of how to implement the relevant provisions in the ISPS Code and SOLAS Chapter XI-2. This followed a national maritime security workshop on design and conduct of drills and exercises organized for Trinidad and Tobago by IMO last year, the outcomes of which are being addressed in part by this new workshop.