The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a part of the United Nations, is moving ahead with a prohibition on the carriage of not-compliant fuel oil as the new low sulfur limit which comes into force from January 1, 2020.
At a meeting from February 5 through 9, the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) adopted the draft amendments to the MARPOL Convention, making an exception for ships fitted with an approved “equivalent arrangement” such as scrubbers. For ships without an approved equivalent arrangement the sulfur content of any fuel oil carried for use on board may not exceed 0.50 percent. MARPOL is short for Maritime Pollution and refers to the “International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. It is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. The MARPOL Convention was adopted on November 2, 1973 at IMO, with a Protocol that was adopted in 1978 in response to several tanker accidents in 1976-1977. The combined instrument entered into force on October 2, 1983. Over the years, MARPOL has been updated by amendments to address maritime pollution issues.
From the start of the meeting, IMO’s Secretary-General, Kitack Lim made it clear that the global sulfur requirements will enter into force in 2020. The rules are expected to make a significant improvement to both public health and the environment. Since most countries accepted the start date of 2020 as the date of entry into force, the discussion quickly turned to technical proposals for enforcing the sulfur requirements.
The proposed draft amendments have been sent for urgent consideration to the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 72), which will be meeting in April 2018. To assist with implementation, the IMO Sub-Committee has agreed to develop Guidelines covering all relevant aspects of the 0.50 percent sulfur limit for all ships which should ensure a level playing field for all parties. These new regulations will have an impact on dredging vessels and these pollution challenges are being addressed in the building of new dredges with various fuel consumption alternatives.