The following statement is written by Unni Einemo of the International Bunker Industry Association:
IBIA is continuing its efforts for IMO to adopt guidelines ahead of 2020 that will promote a uniform approach to fuel oil testing and reporting protocol for the verification of compliance with MARPOL Annex VI sulphur limits.
Earlier this year, IBIA submitted two papers to the 5th session of the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 5) proposing a way ahead on sulphur testing and compliance verification. Both papers will be forwarded to a PPR intersessional working group (ISWG) taking place at the IMO in July.
In PPR 5/12/1, IBIA proposes establishing appropriate guidelines for verifying the sulphur content in fuel oil samples taken from ships’ fuel systems (in-use samples). Having clear guidelines for this would be desirable already today, as we know the majority of testing of fuel oil samples to verify MARPOL compliance in established emission control areas is done on such samples, and the approach has not been consistent between Administrations.
IBIA’s proposal asks for sulphur verification for in-use samples to be treated differently from the sulphur verification found in Appendix VI to MARPOL Annex VI to verify the sulphur content in the representative fuel oil sample taken at the time of delivery, known as the MARPOL sample, as it carries a risk of unfairly penalising ships on the basis of unsound evidence. IBIA called for the guidelines for verification testing of in-use samples to specify the use of the ISO 8754 test method for sulphur and fully recognize the 95% confidence principle regarding test precision found in ISO 4259.
PPR 5/13/9 from IBIA, meanwhile, proposes adding a definition of “sulphur content” in regulation 2 of MARPOL Annex VI based on ISO 8754 so that sulphur testing undertaken by authorities to verify compliance with MARPOL sulphur limits would be consistent in all jurisdictions.
Since PPR 5, China made a new proposal to MEPC 72 supporting IBIA’s original proposal in PPR 5/13/9 to add a definition of “sulphur content” to MARPOL Annex VI, but wanting to include both ISO 8754 and ISO 14596 sulphur test methods in the definition. China’s paper will also be considered at the ISWG in July.
With regards to testing and verification procedure of in-use fuel oil samples, in addition to IBIA’s proposal to establish appropriate guidelines (PPR 5/12/1), proposals are also on the table to amend Appendix VI to MARPOL Annex VI so it deals with the sulphur verification procedure for both MARPOL samples and in-use samples.
There appears to be significant support for IBIA’s proposal to recognise the 95% confidence principle for in-use samples, and also for the proposal to define “sulphur content” in the MARPOL Annex VI regulation to ensure that verification testing is performed using the same ISO test method.
However, regulatory amendments to MARPOL Annex VI, if agreed, would not take effect until maybe mid-2021 because of the time required for IMO regulatory changes to be approved, adopted and enter into force.
With that in mind, IBIA has submitted a paper to the ISWG in July proposing text to encourage consistency in testing of sulphur content for verification purposes that could be included in the IMO guidelines on “Consistent implementation of regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI” or as an update to the 2009 Guidelines for port State control under the revised MARPOL Annex VI.
IBIA’s paper says these should be issued prior to 2020 because at the moment, it is not clear if, or when, Administrations will have clear instructions on how to deal with testing and interpretation of test results to verify compliance with sulphur limits. Until such clarity is provided by the regulatory framework, Administrations may employ a variety of test methods, reporting protocols and interpretations of test results which could lead to the treatment of ships and fuel oil suppliers varying from one jurisdiction to the next. Regarding in-use samples, in the absence of clear guidance, PSC may rely on appendix IV which does not fully recognise the 95% confidence principle.
The IMO 2020 planning meeting is scheduled to run from 9 to 13 July. As an industry association with consultative status at the IMO, IBIA will participate in the meeting.
Photo credit: International Maritime Organization
Published: 29 June, 2018
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