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News: IMO Sulphur Cap coming into force

31 December 2019

Tomorrow, 1 January 2020, the Regulation 14.1.3 of Annex VI of the Marpol Convention (IMO Sulphur Cap) adopted by the IMO in 2016 will come into force. The IMO Sulphur Cap prohibits not just the use, but also carriage of bunkers above 0.5% sulphur unless the ship has been fitted with equivalent means of compliance. The carriage ban is set to kick in on 1 March 2020 so that in the interim period it is anticipated that charterers will have to ensure that any non-compliant fuel is discharged from the vessel’s bunker tanks at the latest by 1 March 2020 and owners then have the obligation to clean such tanks to receive compliant fuel thereafter.

Under mounting pressure to reduce sulphur emissions this might be seen as simply the next step since the adoption of Annex VI of the Marpol Convention on 17 May 2005 to prevent air pollution from ships and the introduction of emissions control areas.

It is claimed the IMO Sulphur Cap will mean:

a 77% drop in overall SOx emissions from ships, equivalent to an annual reduction of approximately 8.5 million metric tonnes of SOx. Particulate matter - tiny harmful particles which form when fuel is burnt – will also be reduced
(International Maritime Organization Briefing: 35 20/12/2019).

This should bring significant benefits for both human health and the environment.

Failure to manage anything from fuel availability, stability and compatibility challenges to scrubber installation, operation and maintenance could result in costly delays, fines, and worse still, loss of power resulting in groundings and collisions. This could have serious implications for P&I clubs, including claims arising from wreck removal, pollution, cargo damage/loss and injury/death of crew.

The shipping industry has been working tirelessly to ensure it is prepared for and there is a smooth transition on 1 January 2020.

The club has been keeping its members up to date on the latest information, opinion and useful resources. All articles, news stories and alerts can be found in our knowledge centre here.

In addition, the club will publish regular updates on its website in relation to IMO2020 issues, including but not limited to regulatory and port states control issues, loss prevention and claims.

It is also worth noting the IMO Secretariat has set up a dedicated hotline email address for any queries from the shipping industry as the regulation comes into effect, imo2020@imo.org.

If you have any queries, please get in touch with your usual club contact.