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​PPR Intersessional Meeting on Consistent implementation of regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI (ISWG-AP 1), 9-13 July 2018


Preparing for 2020 sulphur limit – draft guidance developed

Draft guidance to support ships to plan for the implementation from 1 January 2020 of the lower limit of 0.50% for sulphur content in fuel oil used by ships has been developed by an International Maritime Organization (IMO) intersessional meeting (9-13 July). The draft guidance will be forwarded to the next session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 73), 22-26 October 2018. 

The draft guidance is part of a set of guidelines being developed by IMO to help ensure the consistent implementation of the MARPOL regulation coming into effect from 1 January 2020. This will cut the limit for sulphur content in fuel oil to 0.50% mass by mass (m/m), from 3.50%. (The limit will remain at 0.10% in the four internationally designated Emission Control Areas (ECAs): the Baltic Sea area; the North Sea area; the North American area (covering designated coastal areas off the United States and Canada); and the United States Caribbean Sea area (around Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands).

The lower limit on sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships from 2020 will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxides emanating from ships and should have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts.

The draft MEPC circular on Guidance on the development of a ship implementation plan for the consistent implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI was finalized  and is being forwarded directly to the MEPC 73 so it can be approved and issued as soon as possible. The guidance includes sections on:

·         risk assessment and mitigation plan (impact of new fuels);

·         fuel oil system modifications and tank cleaning (if needed);

·         fuel oil capacity and segregation capability;

·         procurement of compliant fuel;

·         fuel oil changeover plan (conventional residual fuel oils to 0.50% sulphur compliant fuel oil); and

·         documentation and reporting.

The meeting agreed to recommend MEPC 73 to invite the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 100) to consider the outcome of this meeting concerning the safety implications associated with the use of low-sulphur fuel oil, and take action as appropriate noting the initiative of industry organizations to develop industry guidance and possibly training material.

The intersessional meeting also progressed its work on developing a range of other guidance, on impact on fuel and machinery systems resulting from new fuel blends or fuel types; verification issues and control mechanism and actions, including port State control and samples of fuel oil used onboard; a standard reporting format for fuel oil non-availability; and safety implications relating to the option of blended fuels.

In addition, the intersessional meeting developed draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI on the definition of "sulphur content", "low flashpoint fuel", sampling of fuel oil used onboard, and testing and verification procedure for in-use fuel oil samples; and made progress on development of draft amendments to update the 2009 Guidelines for port State control under revised MARPOL Annex VI (resolution MEPC.181(59)) and Guidelines for onboard sampling for verification of the sulphur content of the fuel oil used on board ships (MEPC.1/Circ.864). 

These will be further developed and finalized during the next PPR 6 session in February 2019.