The date of the global 0.5% cap on sulphur in marine fuel is to be determined in October, if the outcome of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) fuel availability study allows.
MEPC 69 – concluded last week with no discussions on ISO 8217 2016 fuel quality standards and the global fuel sulphur 0.5% cap assessment is in progress, where it is expected that IMO would roll out a decision at MEPC 70, which is scheduled in October 2016.
The fuel availability steering group would assess the availability of fuel compliant with the MARPOL Annex VI global sulphur limit – which is likely to be completed before the next MEPC meeting in October.
A steering committee comprising 13 member states, one intergovernmental organisation and six international non-governmental organisations is overseeing the review, which is being conducted by CE Delft.
Based on that information, the committee agreed to aim for a decision on whether the cap will be introduced on 1 January 2020 or 2025 at the forthcoming meeting. However, it was accepted that the outcome of the study will need to be considered in full before a decision is made. If the review is inconclusive, further research may be needed, delaying a decision.
“Ship operators and oil refiners will require as much time as possible to prepare for implementation,” as expressed by ICS and INTERTANKO.
“The oil refining industry will need to take important decisions to ensure that sufficient quantities of compliant fuel will be available. Shipowners will need to take important decisions, inter alia, about whether to invest in alternative compliance mechanisms such as exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers) or the use of low sulphur fuels such as LNG.”
“The date of implementation of the 0.50% sulphur cap may also affect decisions on whether or not ships will be sent for early recycling. In view of the economic impact that the implementation date will have on international shipping, and the decisions that need to be taken by oil refiners and shipping companies worldwide, it is vital that the [IMO] takes a clear decision as soon as possible – ideally at MEPC 70.”