PPR starts work towards sulphur cap

26 Jan 2017

The IMO’s Pollution Prevention & Response (PPR) sub-committee has launched its efforts towards the ‘consistent and effective’ implementation of the 2020 global sulphur cap.

The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) tasked the PPR sub-committee with exploring actions to assist implementation when it decided on the date of the 0.5% fuel sulphur cap last year. At the PPR meeting last week, the group set out the scope of work to be conducted in 2018 and 2019.

As well as considering preparatory and transitional issues that may arise as a result of the switch from 3.5% sulphur fuel, the group will evaluate the impact that low-sulphur fuel could have on fuel systems and machinery. Verification methods and control mechanisms for compliance will also be considered.

A draft standardised system for reporting fuel oil unavailability will be developed, to be used as evidence if ships cannot source compliant fuel. Guidance to assist member states and stakeholders in assessing sulphur content, to encourage verification that fuel meets the levels specified on bunker notes, will also be drafted.

PPR will ask the ISO to consider its ISO 8217 standard for fuel supplied to ships in order to ensure consistency with the sulphur requirements in regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI. The group will also consider other amendments to regulations or guidelines as needed to ensure consistent implementation of the cap.

Concerns on fuel oil quality and ships' safety were also noted.  

The sub-committee noted: “Implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit will significantly reduce SOx emissions to the atmosphere from the world's fleet, but will also introduce a significant change in the daily operating cost of ships. Those additional costs are of a magnitude that could cause serious commercial distortion if there is uneven implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit.”

The MEPC will be invited to approve a new output on consistent implementation of the cap at its seventy first meeting, later this year.