BIMCO, the Clean Shipping Coalition, Cruise Lines International Association, Friends of the Earth US, International Chamber of Shipping, International Parcel Tankers’ Association, INTERTANKO, Pacific Environment, World Shipping Council, and WWF Global Arctic Programme have jointly released a statement calling for the prohibition of the carriage of non-compliant fuel when the IMO’s global 0.5 per cent sulphur cap takes effect in 2020.

The IMO says that there is no reason for a ship to be carrying non-compliant fuels unless it has an approved emissions abatement system installed. A debate at the IMO in London is scheduled for February to decide whether to implement the non-compliant carriage prohibition.

Such a prohibition would overturn the current state of regulation issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2012 which will allow ship owners to use non-compliant fuel oil without an emissions abatement system if no compliant fuel oil is available at a bunkering port. The ship owner may then issue a FONAR or Fuel Oil Non Availability Report. Some in the industry had assumed that the FONAR could be used world-wide on the basis that the oil companies are unable to guarantee the availability of compliant fuel at each and every bunker station.

Presumably the associated worthies undersigning the joint statement wish to ensure a level playing field so that ship owner A cannot undercut ship owner B by using non-compliant cheaper heavy fuel oil on a voyage.

But, unless compliant fuel is available at every port – and bunker suppliers fear it won’t be – the industry has less than two years to decide whether to fit scrubbers and to implement that decision. If an owner does decide to fit scrubbers, then the manufacturer, ship yard and finance all must be identified, the system must be tested and the extracted sulphur must be disposed of at an as yet undetermined location. So far, fewer than one thousand ships world-wide employ scrubbers, out of a global fleet of approximately eighty thousand ships.

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