We keep reading and being told that the IMO 2020 sulphur cap kicks off on January 1 2020. We are told that on that date compliance is the key to successful shipping and will kickstart another level of concern and action for the environment. The trouble is, if you are a ship owner, operator or manager, you don’t have less than 18 months to go before doing anything – by now you should be looking at your 2020 operations and how to ensure you are up and running with them well before the end of 2019. There is just one fly in the ointment – or rather two – and both are delaying concrete plans for compliance. Those two imponderables seem to be: when will the new fuel be ready and where will it be bunkered?
Look at your options for compliance: you can fit expensive scrubbers, burn the new fuels that will be on offer, try alternatives such as LNG, use new blended fuels or simply do nothing. But the other solution is to use a recognised fuel treatment, an additive that will be cheaper, cost-effective and much easier to use. Choice is never a bad thing but in the case of IMO 2020 and all it stands for, the lack of clarity with less than 18 months to go is more than confusing. You begin to suspect that if the refining of the new fuel, the new blends and the availability of alternatives are not in place before the run in to the end of 2019, then non-compliance might be the only way forward in the initial period. Nobody is going to want to drift on this and yet unless we know more than just the chemical properties of these fuels we are not going to be sure this whole process will start smoothly. Blended fuels don’t seem at the moment to be inspiring too many people and thoughts of damage to engines and operations crop up in these conversations.
We are still saying that these issues need sorting and soon. Owners and operators need to know where and when: bunkers need to be identified and new fuels, blends and alternatives need to be made known. There is a lot we need and a lot the industry needs. Trouble is, to be ahead on planning ….. we need it now!