Need for clarity on IMO 2020
The fast approaching global deadline restricting Sulphur content in marine fuels continues to raise concerns over consistency in the quality of the 'new’ fuels that will dominate the market from January 2020.
"Supplies at the bigger bunker centres like Rotterdam and Singapore are not likely to be problematic,” says Martin Dorsman, Secretary General, European Community Shipowners Associations (ECSA). "But tramp operators, who serve ports worldwide, are worried about the quality that will be available to them in many global locations and the potential risks in terms of vessel safety and the potential for equipment damage.”
Dorsman says ECSA is advising its members to be meticulous in their preparations and to "study the IMO documentation available and follow that guidance”, but also acknowledges a sense of an industry taking a step into the unknown.
Some owners are avoiding the switch to low Sulphur fuels altogether by retrofitting exhaust gas scrubbers, in order to continue with HSFO. Here too, Dorsman says ECSA has concerns, particularly as certain regulatory authorities (China, for example) have outlawed open loop scrubbers.
"We need more clarity on what is allowed and where,” he says. "The situation is not transparent and there needs to be urgent dialogue at IMO level. Whatever happens, shipowners that have invested in scrubbers in good faith should not be penalised.”
Regulatory clarity will be a key building block as shipping seeks to uphold commitments to decarbonise in line with IMO aspirations set out for 2050, Dorsman adds. "We want to decarbonise as quickly and as cost effectively as possible. The big question is how, and I expect many of the answers in terms of new technology and alternative fuels will be discussed at Europort 2019.”