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MRV regulations in the EU – another challenge for ship operators

MRV regulations in the EU – another challenge for ship operators
Ship operators trading to, from, or between EU ports face yet another regulatory hurdle on requirements to have ship-specific monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) plans approved by independent accredited verifiers and in place by August 2017 ready for implementation from January 2018.

Although approval of the ship-specific plans in a one-off exercise, compliance will have to be validated on an annual basis.

Lloyd Register’s (LR) environmental manager Kathrin Palmer believes up to 15,000 ships may be affected by the regulations. But, she says, few owners have even started to make the necessary preparations. Such ships represent about 55% of all vessels calling in EU ports, according to LR estimates.

The regulations represent unilateral action by the EU and come as the IMO prepares its own set of similar emission monitoring requirements. Although much the same information on fuel usage and cargo carried will be required by both, the EU requires ships to have a document of compliance issued by an accredited verifier while the IMO regulations will be flag state-driven. For a period of time, there is likely to be an unavoidable period of overlap, Palmer believes.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that EU regulators have not yet approved any accredited verifiers because the relevant criteria have not been defined. The criteria, Palmer said, are currently being drawn up by the EU but are unlikely to be established before the end of this year. This will leave just a few months in which ship operators can have ship-specific MRV plans prepared, approved and submitted in time for the August 2017 deadline.

Ships without documents of compliance will be allowed to call once in EU ports from January 2018, but on subsequent port calls, they will be required to have valid documentation in place. LR has already carried out pilot projects with some ship operators including Tsakos Columbia Shipmanagement which is believed to be the first company to have a sign-off from the class society. The pilot study focused on the reliability of data reported from the vessel, the accuracy of calculations made by the company’s personnel ashore, and the risks relating to the MRV process.