Ships which do not have an exhaust gas cleaning system capable of limiting pollutants to the required level will have to burn only low-sulphur fuel oil from 1 January 2020. Such ships will be allowed to have non-compliant fuel onboard (but in segregated tanks and not to be used) during a grace period up to 1 March 2020. However, prudent owners will want such fuel to be used or removed before 1 January, as it will be an offense to have non-compliant fuel onboard such ships after 1 March.
Responsibilities between owners and charterers for removing non-compliant fuel will depend on the charter party terms and many owners are inserting terms into their new charters requiring the charterer to use or remove non-compliant fuel before 1 January.
The principal responsibility of the charterer is to supply fuel which is suitable for use on the vessel. That is likely to include an obligation to supply low-sulphur fuel after 1 January 2020 and to use (before 1 January) or remove (before 1 March) non-compliant fuel from the vessel, as it will no longer be suitable for use by the vessel after those dates. However, this remains undecided and there may well be disputes between owners and charterers in relation to the costs and time involved in removing non-compliant fuel oil before the relevant deadlines.
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