Issues include the supply of low-sulphur fuel oil , concerns about non-availability and the risks of blended fuels.
There are many questions and few answers, says BIMCO secretary-general Lars Robert Pedersen
PEDERSEN: “ARE WE READY FOR THE 2020 0.5% SULPHUR CAP?”
SEVERAL critical questions need addressing if the International Maritime Organization is to implement its sulphur regulations successfully, according to BIMCO deputy secretary-general Lars Robert Pedersen.
The first relates to the sufficient supply of low-sulphur fuel oil, he said during a green shipping conference hosted by the shipping group in Shenzhen.
An IMO fuel availability study in 2016 stated that the 2020 sulphur cap would require every refinery to optimise their product mix to make it possible to supply the shipping industry as well as other sectors, Mr Pedersen said.
“Even if the refiners all co-ordinated their efforts, it would be difficult — but such co-ordination would be illegal.”
Another question concerns the non-availability exemption provided by MARPOL annex VI, regulation 18 — a situation where a ship cannot obtain compliant fuel at a port — and whether it can be extended to 2020.
“Even if the ship is allowed to use a non-compliant bunker, when is it expected to be back in compliance again, [not to mention] the effect of the still-to-be-adopted ban on carriage of non-compliant fuel on ships without scrubbers,” Mr Pedersen said.
And there are more questions about blended fuels.
Compliant blends for the 0.5% sulphur cap are likely not to fall within ISO 8217 specification, the international benchmark that defines the properties of fuels at the time and place of custody transfer.
This is a problem, especially when a non-ship-owner party, which is more interested in meeting the commercial value rather than the fuel’s technical properties, buys the fuel.
“How can you contractually agree on a fuel quality without having a standard to refer to?” Mr Pedersen said.
In addition, the more blending the worse the quality of the fuel may be, as the materials vary in different regions of the world.
Without specifications, ships may receive bunkers that cannot be loaded on top of tanks on board, which might leave ships paralysed while at sea, according to Mr Pedersen.
“Are we ready for the 2020 0.5% sulphur cap on fuels used outside emission control areas?” he asked. “The questions are many and answers few.”