IMO firm on sulfur

THE International Maritime Organization (IMO) is standing its ground on the enforcement of the 2020 sulfur cap, which means that as of January 1, 2020, ships will be banned from burning any marine fuel with a sulfur content above 0.5 per cent.

IMO’s sub-committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR), which met on February 5-9 in London, agreed on draft amendments to the MARPOL Convention on the prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL Annex VI) to prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil.

The exception will be ships fitted with an approved “equivalent arrangement” to meet the sulfur limit — such as an exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS) or so-called “scrubber” — which are already permitted under regulation 4.1 of MARPOL Annex VI.

A ship undertaking trials for ship em­ission reduction and control technology research can be exempted as well.

The amendments have been forwarded to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 72) meeting in April 2018, for urgent consideration. Once approved by MEPC 72, they could be adopted at MEPC 73 (October 2018) and could enter into force on March 1, 2020.

“This is an important development that closes a serious loophole in the original agreement. Banning the carriage of non-compliant fuel will make it considerably more difficult for unscrupulous ship operators to ignore the rule, burn cheaper non-compliant fuel, and escape serious sanction. This decision, which must be confirmed by the IMO in April, will mean a cleaner environment and fewer premature deaths from ship air pollution,” said John Maggs, senior policy adviser at Seas At Risk and president of the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC), an international environmental organisation.

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