The global availability of safe compliant bunker fuels remains a key question largely unanswered with less than six months away from the IMO 2020 regulation, Intercargo said as it raises safety concerns.
Intercargo (International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners) has expressed a growing concern in view of the magnitude of the challenge lying ahead for the shipping industry and a need for a smooth transition.
“It is extremely worrying that compliant fuels have so far been made available only in a limited number of ports and under unfavourable terms for voluntary early testing by ships, as charterers/operators are not currently obliged to purchase future compliant fuel,” Intercargo stated.
“Hence the practical testing of new fuels and crew training, which is only possible under real conditions aboard ships, is very limited and pushed to the end of year – this situation creates significant safety implications for the operation of ships, which could eventually threaten the safety of seafarers, ships, and cargoes, as well as the marine environment,” it said.
From 1 January 2020, all ocean-going ships are required to burn bunker fuels with a maximum sulphur content of 0.5%, down from the current 3.5%, under IMO’s Marpol Annex VI regulation.
Intercargo, which represents about 25% of global dry bulk fleet basis deadweight, has urged the fuel supply industry to provide the market with “significant volumes” of compliant fuels at many ports around the world, and for charterers/operators to start purchasing these fuels.
The association also urged the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) related to the 0.5% limit to be made available as soon as possible to provide guidance on the application of the existing ISO 8217 specification for marine fuels.
It further called on shipowners and operators to enhance crew training, as the industry will largely rely on their skills for managing the new compliant fuels aboard ships to ensure a smooth operational implementation.