The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has this week agreed that the 0.5% global sulphur limit will enter into force on 1 January 2020.
Regulation 14 of MARPOL Annex VI will require bunker fuels to be sold with a maximum sulphur content of 0.5%.
The ruling to implement the cap in 2020 rather than 2025 came after the IMO reviewed an expert study into global fuel availability led by CE Delft.
It is a move that has divided the industry. Environmentalists have welcomed the move, although concerns over supply in addition to safety concerns regarding blending of fuels and resultant flash points remain.
Therefore, the IMO made the decision to pass these issues to the Pollution, Prevention and Response Sub Committee (PPR) for their urgent attention and resolution as quickly as possible next year. There will also be substantial issues surrounding implementation and enforcement to ensure a level playing field post 2020 and these also need to be given close attention at next year’s MEPC.
The starter gun has been sounded for the industry to choose the adoption of compliance measures. Options include low sulphur fuel use, the installation of exhaust gas cleaning systems onboard ships and the use of alternative fuels such as LNG.
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