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ICS raises concerns over 2020 fuel availability and agreed standards

Association calls on IMO to 'urgently resolve' these issues within the next 18 months.



Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). Image credit: International Chamber of Shipping (ICS)


Updated on 08 May 2018 12:47 GMT

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) says it is "very concerned" about some of the potential implications of the upcoming 0.5 percent cap on the sulphur content of marine fuel in 2020 and has called for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to "urgently resolve" these issues within the next 18 months.

In particular, the ICS has raised its concerns regarding whether there will be sufficient 2020-compliant fuels available in ports around the world when the new legislation becomes effective.

Additionally, the association warns that, without agreed international standards for new 0.5 percent fuels, it could lead to vessels suffering mechanical issues as a result.

Agreed standards

On the issue of legislation, the ICS said: "In the absence of agreed standards for new fuels, including blends that will be compliant with the 0.5% sulphur limit but which may differ in their composition from port to port, ICS is very concerned this could lead to serious compatibility and mechanical problems."

Availability issues

Discussing fuel availability, the ICS stated: "While the industry is fully committed to immediate implementation, there could possibly be an initial period of 'teething problems' when suitable compliant fuel might not always be available in every port until it can be shipped in from elsewhere. This is more likely to be a significant problem for ships in tramp trades which call at diverse port destinations which are not always known long in advance."

If 0.5 percent sulphur fuel is not available in every port worldwide, ICS notes that ships may still bunker and use other compliant fuels, such as 0.1 percent distillates, but warns that this raises other serious issues - not least those relating to compatibility.

Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, stressed: "It is vital that ship operators, charterers and fuel purchasers start making the necessary preparations to be ready for this major change. This also means that oil refiners and bunker suppliers will need to ensure that compliant fuels are actually available for ships to purchase well in advance of January 2020."

Annual review

The ICS chairman made the comments in his introduction to the new ICS Annual Review, published in advance of next week's ICS AGM in Hong Kong.

The ICS Annual Review 2018 is an overview of regulatory and policy issues confronting ship operators, which is being distributed by ICS member national shipowner associations and can be downloaded via the ICS website.

The ICS Annual Review contains an in-depth analysis of issues such as the milestone IMO agreement on reducing CO2 emissions, as well as the many safety, legal and trade policy developments affecting international shipping.






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