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IMO working group develops plan to help ships prepare for 2020

Covers areas such as bunkering, fuel oil capacity, modifications to fuel oil systems, segregation and tank cleaning.



The International Maritime Organization's (IMO) headquarters in London. Image credit: Andrew Bowden Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0


Updated on 18 Jul 2018 13:03 GMT

Last week's IMO intersessional working group (ISWG) meeting, held under the auspices of the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR), developed a ship implementation plan (SIP) as part of the work to provide guidance on preparatory and transitional issues ahead of the implementation of the global 0.5 percent cap on the sulphur content of marine fuel in 2020, the International Bunker Industry Association's (IBIA) IMO Representative, Unni Einemo, has explained.

The SIP is designed to help ship owners and operators devise a sulphur cap plan and demonstrate the steps taken to prepare for compliance. It covers areas such as bunkering, fuel oil capacity, modifications to fuel oil systems, segregation and tank cleaning.

The document features an appendix covering the impact on machinery systems, including advice on how to prepare for the use of distillates and/or fuel oil blends, and changes that may be needed ahead of 2020.

A set of guidelines of a more operational nature - to help operators manage both distillate fuels and fuel oil blends containing residual fuel - is still under development and is expected to be addressed at PPR in February next year for approval at the 74th Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting, in May 2019.

A second SIP appendix addresses tank cleaning; it is based on a document submitted by IBIA which examines the options available for cleaning fuel oil tanks and systems.

IBIA's tank cleaning guidance

IBIA's document highlights the risk - both in terms of operational safety and 2020 non-compliance - of loading compliant fuels into tanks that have previously held high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO). It notes that compliant fuels could act as solvents, causing HSFO sediments and asphaltenic sludge to rapidly dissolve.

However, during the ISWG meeting, shipping firms were said to be concerned that the document could be interpreted by some to mean that tank cleaning was a prerequisite, and wanted to make it clear that flushing through the fuel system with compliant fuels is also acceptable.

At the meeting, a shortened version of IBIA's tank cleaning guidance was proposed as an appendix to the SIP, for approval at the next MEPC meeting in October.

The appendix runs through the options for preparing HSFO tanks for compliance, including flushing through fuel systems (i.e. not cleaning tanks first), manual cleaning of tanks during dry docking, manual cleaning during service, and cleaning tanks in service with specialised additives.






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