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IMO agrees to ban on carriage of high sulphur fuel in 2020

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed a ban on the carriage of high sulphur fuel by vessels unless they are fitted with a scrubber from two months after the 1 January 2020 0.5% sulphur cap coming into force.

The amendment was adopted by the IMO on Friday and will prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuels for the use of operation onboard ship unless a scrubber is fitted on board the vessel. The amendment is expected to come into force two months into the sulphur cap being in place on 1 March 2020.

“The amendment does not change in any way the entry into force date of the 0.50% limit from 1 January 2020. It is intended as an additional measure to support consistent implementation and compliance and provide a means for effective enforcement by States, particularly port State control,” IMO said.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said it welcomed the ban on the carriage of non-compliant fuel by vessels not fitted with scrubbers.

The vast majority of vessels are expected to comply with the sulphur cap by using 0.5% or less compliant fuels, although at least 1,850 vessels have either been fitted with or will have scrubbers installed, and this number continues to grow.

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In relation to an experince gathering phase proposed by a group of industry organisations and major flag states the IMO said: “The Committee invited concrete proposals to the next MEPC 74 session (May 2019)  on how to enhance the implementation of regulation 18 MARPOL Annex VI which covers fuel oil quality and availability.”

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“In view of the enormity of this major change it’s likely there’ll be some teething problems immediately before and after 1 January 2020. Many industry associations, including ICS, have raised legitimate concerns about fuel availability, safety and compatibility of new fuels – a particular problem for those in the tramp trades,” said Esben Poulsson chairman of teh ICS.

“But if shipowners can demonstrate in good faith that they’ve done everything possible to follow an implementation plan – in line with the template IMO has now adopted – we hope that common sense will prevail in the event that safe and compliant fuels are not immediately available everywhere.”