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The International Maritime Organization has been urged to clarify four areas of IMO 2020, as carriers scramble for compliance with the forthcoming low-sulphur fuel limit.
The “once-in-a-generation disruptor to shipping’s commercial environment” takes effect on 1 January 2020: a fuel sulphur content limit of 0.5%, down from 3.5% in some parts of the world, at some considerable cost to the industry.
Amid concern and the countdown, the UK Chamber of Shipping has called for the IMO to address four key areas: mitigation of safety issues linked to the switch; education on handling the fuel; reporting of compliance issues; and how the organisation will provide consistent global regulation.
The chamber said: “The new regulation will change the face of the shipping industry. It will have a positive impact on the environment and air quality, but could have a disruptive effect on operations if shipowners do not prepare effectively.”
While the IMO has yet to address issues surrounding fuel safety, it is working on guidelines to support the consistent implementation and to help state control enforce the regulation.
Furthermore, the UN body is reportedly also working on a fuel oil non-availability template (FONAR).
The UK Chamber says FONAR provides documentation to prove every effort to obtain compliant fuel had been pursued prior to a decision to bunker with non-compliant fuel.
But, it said, certain questions remained unanswered: “For instance, what happens to non-compliant fuel remaining onboard after a ship, having already provided a FONAR, arrives at a port where compliant fuel is available?”
Part of the problem facing the industry is uncertainty over how to comply with IMO 2020, with some suggesting scrubbers as the best option to mitigate the impact of the cap, some have pointed to LNG as an alternative, while others claim the clearest route to compliance is low-sulphur fuel.
A report by Panalpina suggests there has been an uptake among container lines looking to take the LNG route, with some hubs “racing” to develop LNG bunkering technology. It cites an order from CMA CGM for ten 15,000+ teu vessels, five to be fuelled by LNG and five fitted with scrubbers.
For forwarders like Panalpina, the focus will be on making sure it can maintain the best rates and provide customers with options they are happy to pay for, it said.
Global head of ocean freight Joerg Twachtmann added: “We have been developing a transparent and competitive pricing mechanism to cut the best deal for our customers.
“We now have a globally competitive bunker mechanism that will increase visibility for customers and ease the transition towards new fuel types to comply with the sulphur limit.”