Cutting the permissible level of sulphur in ship’s fuel from 3.50% to 0.50% is expected to bring about an 8.5 million metric tonnes reduction of SOx entering the atmosphere. While this is a clear win for the environment, the transition is not without practical challenges for the shipping industry. Following the first IMO roundtable on the consistent implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit for shipping held in June 2019, IMarEST was invited back to participate in a follow-up meeting on the preparation challenges as we approach the implementation date of 1 January 2020.
This time the aim was to gauge how prepared the maritime industry is for the impending regulation, taking into account insights gained from the IMO Symposium on IMO 2020 and Alternative Fuels convened in October 2020, which brought together member States and representatives from shipping and refineries and affirmed that despite some difficulties, the shipping sector will be ready. The IMarEST brought a much-needed engineers’ perspective to the discussions as it is engineers who will be at the frontline of dealing with issues regarding practical implementation. The presentations from that symposium can be found on the Emissions SIG Nexus page.
Thanks to efforts from industry stakeholders in raising awareness, the outcome of the roundtable was an increased confidence on consistent implementation. Advisories from various organisations including the Joint Industry Guidance on Supply and Use of 0.50% Sulphur Marine Fuel to which the IMarEST contributed heavily were applauded as hugely valuable tools in supporting smooth implementation. Furthermore, a free e-learning module based on the Joint Industry Guidance will soon be released, which will help it reach a bigger audience and facilitate wider application of its recommendations.
The IMarEST maintains that following any teething problems immediately after the limit comes into effect, the regulation will be implemented without any major issues as the industry adjusts to the switch over and supplies of a wide variety of compliant fuels at various cost differentials become readily available.
The IMarEST will continue its efforts to keep members informed of policy developments and offer guidance for those in the field to manage the upcoming changes e.g. the consistent implementation of IMO 2020, climate/emission implications of some fuels, or operational safety issues such as the enclosed space entry for tank cleaning. Through our efforts, we are trying to link different regulations together to ensure safety standards are maintained.
For example, our Special Interest Groups on Emissions and Alternative Fuels are closely monitoring the situation and working hard to identify compliance issues. Risks associated with alternative fuels are communicated as they come to light. Additional outreach work included a presentation on Fuel Challenges for 2020 and Beyond and a webinar on tank cleaning presented by experts from fuels additives manufacturers and specialist fuel testing organisations.
In parallel to IMO’s efforts to help the industry prepare for low sulphur fuel, the IMarEST is using all available means for knowledge sharing to allow people to learn from others’ experiences (e.g. Marine Professional magazine, IMarEST TV etc.). We are also encouraging members to exchange information on matters arising with the consistent implementation of IMO 2020 by getting in touch, or if advice is required to use the AskIMarEST service.