Implementation problems in focus ahead of 2020 sulphur cap deadline


As the 1 January 2020 deadline for the sulphur cap approaches, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) members reviewed progress in persuading the UN International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to take measures to address expected implementation problems at an ICS Board meeting in London last week.

This includes outstanding safety and fuel compatibility issues associated with the use of new 0.5% sulphur blends and continuing uncertainty over the availability of compliant fuels in every port worldwide, a particular challenge for tramp trades.  The ICS Board concluded that it would be vital for the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee to complete this work at its meeting in May this year, as shipowners began ordering compliant fuels.

“While fuel suppliers must play their part in providing sufficient quantities of safe and compliant low sulphur fuels, shipowners must urgently prepare their ship specific implementation plans for 2020,” said ICS chairman Esben Poulsson. “This should be carried out using the IMO template adopted at the industry’s request and the detailed advice prepared by ICS which we have just updated to take account of other recent IMO decisions.  This will be vital to reduce the possibility of teething problems or in the event of initial Port State Control difficulties due to factors beyond the shipowner’s control.”

With regard to achieving the ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets agreed by IMO last year, including a 40% efficiency improvement by 2030 and a 50% total cut in the sector’s GHG emissions by 2050, the ICS Board endorsed the finalisation of proposals to IMO on short-term measures.  These include tightening of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships – which already requires ships built in 2025 to be 30% more efficient than those delivered before 2013 – as well as proposals for a ‘Super SEEMP’ whereby existing Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans could be subject to mandatory external audits, probably as part of the ISM Code.

“The 2020 global sulphur cap will be the regulatory game changer of the decade with profound implications for the economics of shipping,” said Poulsson. “But there are even more profound changes to come.  We are rapidly moving into a multi-fuel future to be followed we hope, in the 2030s, by the arrival of commercially viable zero CO2 fuels suitable for global application.”


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