The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has warned that “chaos and confusion” could accompany the introduction of IMO’s 0.5 per cent fuel sulphur limit in 2020 unless issues around bunker availability and compatibility are resolved.
Speaking at ICS’s Annual General Meeting of member national shipowner associations in Hong Kong last week, ICS chairman Esben Poulsson said the smooth flow of maritime trade could be disrupted if authorities fail to resolve industry concerns in the coming months.
There is still no guarantee that sufficient quantities of low-sulphur fuels will be available when the regulation comes into effect on 1 January 2020. With many refiners promising to create compliant fuel blends, it’s important to establish global standards to ensure that ship operators don’t end up with incompatible bunkers.
“Governments, oil refiners and charterers of ships responsible for meeting the cost of bunkers all need to understand that ships will need to start purchasing compliant fuels several months in advance of 2020,” Poulsson said. “But at the moment no one knows what types of fuel will be available or at what price, specification or in what quantity.”
ICS has emphasized that governments must make significant progress in addressing low-sulphur fuel supply issues at an IMO meeting in July.
“Unless everyone gets to grips with this quickly we could be faced with an unholy mess with ships and cargo being stuck in port,” Poulsson added.