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Global sulphur cap on the agenda at IMO's PPR4

Meeting to consider what additional measures may be needed for the implementation of the 0.5% cap.

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Updated on 17 Jan 2017 10:26 GMT

Work to support the implementation of the 0.5 percent global sulphur cap on fuel oil used by ships will be a main focus for the fourth session of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 4), which meets in London this week between 16th and 20th January.

The Sub-Committee will consider what additional measures may be needed for the consistent implementation of the cap and will report with a justification and scope for further work to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 71), which meets in July. The MEPC decided at its last session to implement the 0.5 percent limit from 1st January 2020.

Other PPR matters

In other matters, the Sub-Committee is expected to finalize the draft updates to the set of model training courses for oil pollution prevention, response and cooperation (OPRC model courses).

Other subjects on the agenda for the meeting include: the revision of guidelines relating to marine diesel engines fitted with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems to reduce NOx emissions; black carbon; requirements for high-viscosity and persistent floating substances; and the ongoing evaluation of noxious liquid substances for shipment as bulk liquids.

The Sub-Committee is also expected to finalize the draft code for the transport and handling of limited amounts of hazardous and noxious liquid substances in bulk in offshore support vessels.

Designated fuel sampling points

As previously reported by Bunker Index, at the last MEPC meeting, Norway's delegation proposed to phase in a requirement for vessels to have designated fuel sampling points. The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) said in November that the proposal would be sent to PPR for development, and to the Sub-Committee on Ship Systems and Equipment (SSE) to consider the safety aspects, but that it would not instruct PPR on the issue until PPR 5 (in 2018) "due to the limited time remaining before PPR 4".

During MEPC 70, several member states are said to have supported the proposal, which, it is argued, would facilitate compliance checks when the January 2020 global sulphur cap is implemented.

However, several shipping firms were against the idea of establishing a fuel sample procedure to check for sulphur compliance, arguing that fuel sampling should only be carried out if there is a valid reason for suspecting non-compliance.

It was also stressed at MEPC 70 that shipowners should not be charged for any costs arising from the sampling or testing of fuels for compliance instigated by port State control officers.

Addressing MEPC 70, IBIA's IMO representative, Unni Einemo, said Norway's proposal made good sense. "Apart from addressing the safety concerns raised on several occasions, it would standardise the sampling point and bring uniformity. This is really important as we have heard examples of ships being deemed in non-compliance with ECA [Emission Control Area] sulphur limit on the basis of the first sample taken, while a second sample, deemed to be more representative of the fuel in use, tested compliant."

PPR - formerly the Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG) - has been held once a year since 2014.

This week's meeting was opened by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and is being chaired by Sveinung Oftedal, Specialist Director at the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment.

Related Links:

IMO to consider implementing designated fuel sampling points
IBIA chairman voices sulphur cap concerns
2020 Vision: World Fuel Services prepares for new global sulphur cap
Refiners may 'struggle to cope' with MGO demand in 2020
Global sulphur cap set for 2020
United Kingdom

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