Prominent European and Asian tramp shipowning communities look for action from MSC 101 as they register their worries about safety as well as availability of compliant fuels for their globally trading vessels.
They also agreed that shipping should not be expected to fund all the research and development needed to meet carbon reduction commitments on its own and IMO should play a bigger role.
SHIPOWNERS from Greece and Hong Kong have jointly voiced hopes that decisions emerging from the current meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 101) will help to ensure a “safe, consistent and smooth implementation” of the 2020 global sulphur cap.
After a meeting between the two national shipowners’ bodies, held in Hong Kong, a joint statement said that they both remain committed to IMO decisions and goals but were concerned about the availability and cost of compliant fuels as well as “several safety and fuel compatibility issues”. These, they said, “hopefully can be fully addressed by the different stakeholders before 2020.”
Both associations expected MSC 101 to “deal decisively with the pertinent safety issues so that the new rules are compatible with the operational needs of the different types of oceangoing fleet”.
Itinerant in nature, dry bulk and tanker tramp shipping may be more exposed than scheduled liner operations to any shortages of safe, compliant fuels after January 1.
Tramp shipping being prevalent among both Greek and Hong Kong’s owners, both sides are understood to feel that the realities of these sectors need to be taken more into account by regulators.
With regard to the IMO’s longer-term target of halving greenhouse gas emissions from the industry by 2050, safe low-carbon or fossil-free fuels and new, “breakthrough” propulsion technologies would be required globally and these should be “suitable for vessels spending long periods at sea”.
The two associations appeared to agree on the principle that shipping alone should not be expected to fund all the research and development required to provide the new fuels and technologies to enable the industry to meet its targets.
This should involve “all necessary stakeholders” but the IMO should play “a more proactive, leading role” to advance the R&D effort, they said.
“It is important for two major shipowners’ associations from Europe and Asia to cooperate on achieving common goals which constitute major challenges for our industry going forward,” said Jack Hsu, chairman of the Hong Kong Shipowners Association.
“The shipping industry faces serious challenges ahead and must remain united in order to be able to meet them successfully,” said Theodore Veniamis, president of the Union of Greek Shipowners, which has been active in pushing for regulators to take more account of the needs of the huge tramp shipping sector and more generally to pay more heed to the operational experience of international shipowners.
Greek and Hong Kong owners also joined in lauding the IMO’s acceptance of a recent EU proposal for it to review its rules and guidance on the use of exhaust gas cleaning systems, in view of “the contradictions and uncertainties” around scrubbers.
The UGS has been among the most scathing critics of the decision to allow scrubbers as equivalent to burning compliant low-sulphur fuel. But in recent remarks Mr Veniamis underlined that criticism of the regulation did not entail animosity towards fellow-owners who have opted for scrubbers as a business decision.