IMO moves towards non-compliant fuel carriage ban

A ban on carrying non-compliant fuel would dramatically simplify enforcement of the IMO's 2020 sulphur cap A ban on carrying non-compliant fuel would dramatically simplify enforcement of the IMO's 2020 sulphur cap

The majority of delegations to the IMO’s Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) subcommittee have supported a ban on carrying fuel that is not compliant with sulphur limits from 2020.

The proposals, which seek to add a carriage ban to text regulating for the sulphur cap in Marpol annex six, were advanced ‘as a matter of urgency’ to the Marine Environment Protection Committee. If text is approved at The MEPC meeting in April, it could be formally adopted at the following meeting in October. Given IMO procedures requiring amendments to be circulated after entry into force, the carriage ban could be in place as early as March 2020.

The proposals (one from the Cook Islands and Norway, the other from a broad coalition of industry groups) seek a ban to make enforcement of IMO’s 0.5% sulphur cap more feasible. The carriage ban, which would apply to all vessels without scrubbers, would enable port state control to penalise vessels under Marpol for simply carrying non-compliant fuel for use. Under the current wording, they must prove the fuel was used in their jurisdiction.

Maria Skipper Schwenn, executive director, Danish Shipping, said: “This was the first step towards making enforcement of the sulphur requirement simpler. Now IMO begins to work on the practical implications surrounding the implementation to ensure that bunker suppliers, ship owners and authorities have the right instruments and guidance to comply with the sulphur regulation.”

In an article published by the International Bunker Industry Association, the organisation’s IMO representative Unni Einemo reported that there was a long debate about whether the regulatory text would make it sufficiently clear that the carriage ban applies only to fuel carried as bunkers in a ship’s fuel tanks, not to bunkers carried as cargo.

A week-long meeting dedicated to the implementation of the sulphur requirements has been planned for July.

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