There is one big issue concerning Sulphur 2020 that hasn’t been adressed enough until now.
The majority of ships are expected to use oil-based fuel oils for compliance with the 0.50% sulphur limit taking effect on 1 January 2020. Most of these ships will have been using high viscosity high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) based primarily on residual fuel oils. Such fuels tend to stick to the inside of fuel tanks forming layers of semi-solid substances containing sediments and asphaltenic sludge.
It will therefore be necessary to clean ships’ fuel oil tanks and fuel oil service systems prior to 1 January 2020, as simply loading compliant fuel into empty fuel tanks that have not been cleaned could cause both operational risks to ships and risk non-compliance with the 0.50% sulphur limit.
Ship implementation planning for the 2020 sulphur cap is on the agenda at a week-long meeting set to take place at the International Maritime Organization in July according to IBIA. The intersessional working group (ISWG) will work on guidelines to ensure compliance and it has been agreed that guidelines pertaining to “preparatory and transitional issues” need to fast-tracked so they can be adopted by the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) in October this year.
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