The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) has welcomed a decision by the recent International Maritime Organization (IMO) Intersessional Working Group (London, July 9-13, 2018) to take into account several valid safety concerns linked to the transition to new low-sulphur fuels, especially blended fuels.
These are expected to be widely used to ensure compliance with the 0.5% global sulphur cap for marine fuels, which enters into force on 1st January 2020, it says.
“These safety concerns relate to fuel stability, incompatibility between different batches of blended fuels, lower flashpoints than the minimum required by SOLAS, inadequate safety margins for cat fines and extended ignition delays due to poor combustion characteristics, to name but a few,” explains UGS.
“Failure to address these challenges would result in a real and major threat to ships’ crews and machinery and, by extension, to the marine environment.
“Moreover, as the 2020 deadline is fast approaching, safety-related concerns are compounded by serious doubts over the worldwide availability of safe compliant fuel.”
The union noted a Marshall Islands submission, co-sponsored by Liberia and international shipping organisations, calling on the IMO to address the significant challenges associated with transitioning to bunker fuels of low-sulphur content receiving the support of many IMO member states and observer organizations.
“The new rules are a game changer for shipowners, operators and refineries,” comments President of the Union of Greek Shipowners Theodore Veniamis
“There are many variables that may impact on the consistent compliance by ships, which means that the implementation of the new rules will not be straightforward. The IMO has demonstrated pragmatism in supporting a practical and realistic approach going forward.
“Greek shipowners are actively working towards compliance with the requirements of the new IMO 0.5% sulphur limit as of 1st January 2020. It is, however, crucial that related stakeholders also exert all efforts to provide the shipping industry with the necessary means for the achievement of this goal. It is equally crucial that new bunker fuels do not jeopardise the safety of life at sea.
“Marine fuels used post-2020 should not only be compliant in terms of sulphur content, but must also be fit for use, without compromising the ships’ and crews’ safety.”
Photo credit: International Maritime Organization
Published: 17 July, 2018
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