Lower sulphur fuel in the spotlight

11 Sep 2013
When will the review of the availability of 0.5% sulphur fuel begin?

When will the review of the availability of 0.5% sulphur fuel begin?

Government officials and industry representatives met in London on 11 September to discuss the future availability of low sulphur fuel in line with stricter IMO requirements.

The main topic for discussion was the IMO sulphur limit for seas other than designated emission control areas, which is currently set at 3.5%. This is due to be reduced down to 0.5% from January 2020 – subject to a review of the availability of 0.5% sulphur fuel.

During the event, held as part of London International Shipping week, Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General of the IMO, and UK Shipping Minister, Stephen Hammond, sought to dispel the uncertainty which surrounds the start date for the review.

MARPOL requires that the review be completed by 2018, but Mr Sekimizu said there is nothing to say it cannot be completed earlier – especially if there is a strong argument that earlier completion of the review will give more time for all concerned to take necessary action in order to meet the requirements.

Mr Hammond suggested that the review start in January 2015. He said uncertainty around dates is likely to delay crucial investment decisions. He also pointed out that costs would become easier to control along with managing the transition once industry had a date for the review.

The UK Chamber of Shipping welcomed Mr Hammond’s comments.

David Balston, Director of Safety and Environment at the UK Chamber of Shipping, said: "The speed at which shipping operators would be required to meet reduction targets, at huge cost, without sufficient technology in place to support the changes, along with the failure to date for these targets to take account of the overall need to reduce carbon emissions has been causing ship operators great concern for some time.”

He pointed out that latest research shows that attempts to reach targets could cause adverse environmental effects with a modal shift from sea to road and a loss of 2,000 maritime jobs.

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