Ships: IMO increases awareness on Sulphur 2020

...Encourages cooperation among stakeholders

IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has intensified the awareness among stakeholders, on the proposed sulphur emission cuts from ships to a limit of 0.5% m/m (mass by mass) for those operating outside designated emission control areas, while those in designated emission control areas would remain at 0.10% by 1 January, 2020.
According to the IMO, the initiative will benefit human health and the environment, though it would also represent a challenge for the industry.

Secretary-General of the IMO, Kitack Lim, during a symposium on IMO 2020 and Alternative Fuels, which held at the IMO on October 17 and 18 and attended by over 300 delegates, said: “Collaborations among key stakeholders is essential for the smooth landing of the IMO 2020.”

The Secretary-General said stakeholders had undertaken so much work preparing for IMO 2020, considering that the date had been confirmed since 2016, as well as series of guidance and guidelines for  shipowners , and flag and port States.

The guidance and guidelines are importance and necessary because the current limit is 3.50%, making the proposed new limits to mark a significant change, and for most ships, it would mean a switch to new types of compliant fuel oils; the very low sulphur oil (VLSFO), and the blends are new to the market, the IMO said.

Expectations of a volatile price and demand and supply of the new compliant fuel oil is high, though representatives from the oil and gas industry confirmed  that the product would be available in most locations and many ships would be loading the new compliant fuel oils before the end of 2019.

The discussions at the symposium also concluded that with time the price and demand and supply would achieve a balance, considering that there are many actors, from refiners, to bunker suppliers, to ships and the shipping industry.

 "It is all going to be about market dynamics - but supply and demand will get in balance. It will not be an easy transition, but we will get there," said Eddy van Bouwel, Chair, marine fuels committee, IPIECA.

Speakers touched on the challenges new blends of fuel oil might bring, including potential quality issues providing challenges, in particular to the ship's engineers, and the need for preparedness was reiterated, including crew training and reviewing clauses in charter parties.

Other speakers explained how scrubbers (which will be installed on around 4,000 ships) and - to a lesser extent – LNG, are being used to meet the sulphur 2020 limit as well as the potential to reduce other emissions from ships.

A range of speakers, including those from Member Governments, those from shipping, refineries, fuel oil suppliers and legal professionals were in attendance.

IMO's Hiroyuki Yamada, Director of Marine Environment Division, reiterated the importance of cooperation among all stakeholders and encouraged Member Governments, shipping, refinery, fuel oil supply and relevant industries, as well as charterers, to finalize their preparations for IMO 2020.

IMO said it would make every effort to support the consistent implementation of IMO 2020 on Sulphur limit.
Credit: IMO