IMO 2020 implementation for ships to cut sulphur oxide emissions enter into effect in just one month’s time. Preparedness for this major change for the shipping sector was highlighted at a roundtable industry meeting hosted by IMO at its London Headquarters on 18 November.
The roundtable meeting saw increasing confidence towards consistent IMO 2020 implementation resulting from significant efforts to date by all stakeholders and emphasized the continued need for awareness-raising efforts as the deadline looms.
Availability of compliant fuel oil
Views were exchanged on the general availability of fuel to meet the 0.50% limit. It was felt supply would generally be available, with some exceptions. There was some indication that heavy fuel oils continued to be loaded.
However, due to the proximity to the deadline, more ship operators and owners are beginning to gain experience of compliant fuels as bunker suppliers move their storage infrastructure and bunker barges to be 0.50% compliant fuel oil ready.
Enforcement and compliance
Consistent enforcement by Port State Control (PSC) was once again recognized as essential to ensure a level playing field and to ensure that ships would not be disproportionately impacted. MARPOL Annex VI, which contains the sulphur limit regulation, has 95 Parties, who between them register 96.71% of world merchant shipping by tonnage.
Flag States have jurisdiction over the ship and can issue the International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate (IAPP) to ships of 400 gross tonnage and above. However, port States need to be a Party to Annex VI to exercise port State control in relation to the sulphur 2020 limit.
The number of Parties to the Annex varies in different PSC regions. Concerns were raised by some attendees on the preparedness of the PSC regimes to enforce the 2020 sulphur limit.
However, the IMO Secretariat confirmed the Organization’s readiness to support PSC regimes, in particular, with capacity building and training, and highlighted workshops delivered with the support of Denmark and the World Maritime University (WMU).
An IMO Workshop for PSC MoU/Agreement Secretaries and Database Managers will be convened in 2020, which would provide a further opportunity to promote the harmonization of enforcement measures.
Fuel oil non-availability report (FONAR)
Roundtable participants raised concern about possible inconsistent approaches in relation to the fuel oil non-availability report (FONAR). The report is not intended as an exemption but is a standardized template to report non-availability of compliant fuel oil.
The IMO Secretariat reminded participants that IMO has issued the 2019 Guidelines on consistent implementation of 0.50% sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI (MEPC.320(74), which includes a standardised FONAR.