The 2020 IMO sulphur cap will be a regulatory burden to many and yet the begrudging acceptance that many seem to have for it means it will be less of an issue in the long-term; the real issue is the short-term. Under this global cap ships will have to use marine fuels with a sulphur content of no more than 0.5 percent by Jan. 1, 2020. The aim is to  cut sulphur emissions in the shipping industry by 85 percent compared to today’s levels, with the aim of improving air quality and protecting the environment. The latest news is that following a meeting in February 2018, the IMO decided to move forward with a ban on the carriage of fuel oil on board ships that do not comply with the new low sulphur limit.But the real issue in this initial period concerns the supply side and the question is, will there be sufficient compliant fuel oil in bunkering ports to meet the demand for the same.

There is still no definitive word on this and despite the calming utterances from some of the refiners and the claims from some owners and ship managers that this is the most serious part of the equation, the industry is waiting for an answer that will mean calmer waters for all. There is no turning back from this and yet we are sailing towards a deadline with no real agreement on how much and where the new compliant fuel will be.

Many ship owners, operators and managers are still thinking about this and wondering how they will source the new fuel: this is a worry but have they thought about the preparation that is needed by the middle of 2019 to be ready to accept this low sulphur mixture? Think about tank cleaning and it brings a whole new dimension to timetables for compliance. The cap has a start date of January 1 2020: ship owners should have a compliance deadline of mid-2019 to be truly prepared.

Availability of low sulphur fuel a top concern for ship owners


Not only remains uncertainty around the regulatory implementation of the global sulphur cap but also concerns regarding the low sulphur fuel availability in 2020 as highlighted during the Greener Shipping Summit 2017 in Athens, Greece. Kostas Vlachos, COO of Spiros Latsis-backed Consolidated Marine Management said that the changeover cannot occur “overnight” without serious economic consequences. “All stakeholders, regulators, refineries, owners, associations, makers and states, have to play a very important and critical role for the effective, efficient and soft implementation.”

Read more here: Seatrade Maritime

Bunker industry must ensure supply of high sulphur fuel oil bunkers continues beyond 2020: IMO

IMO sulphur cap

At a recent event for the refining and petrochemical industry held in Athens, the IMO stressed that the bunker industry must keep providing the supply of high sulphur fuel oil bunkers even after the new regulations of the 0.5% global sulphur cap on marine fuel comes into force in 2020. According to IMO’s Edmund Hughes, discussions should focus on how to ensure consistent implementation of the sulphur limit as there will be no delay to a 2020 start date for the new rules. This issue will be addressed in the next session of IMO’s sub-committee on Pollution Prevention and Response in February 2018 and during an intersessional working group to be held later in 2018. “Compliance, enforcement and monitoring will be the remit and responsibility of both flag States and port States,” IMO said in a statement following Hughes’ presentation.

Read more here: Ship & Bunker

Compliance & enforcement – it’s complicated

Shipping pollution
At a recent LISW forum hosted by IBIA the key discussions focussed on different options for how the upcoming sulphur cap in 2020 can be enforced and how well the compliance will be monitored. IBIA’s IMO representative Unni Einemo told the forum that enforcers should differentiate between intentional non-compliance and non-compliance due to non-availability of compliant fuel oil.

Read the full article on the forum here and join in the debate!