10th IPTA-Navigate Chemical and Product Tanker Conference

10th IPTA-Navigate Chemical and Product Tanker Conference
5 March 2019, London

Speech by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

Ladies and gentlemen,

I always appreciate the opportunity to spend some time with people at the “sharp end” of the industry we regulate and to share my thoughts with you.

I would like to highlight of the more important regulatory issues facing the shipping industry and, in particular, to put some perspective on some of those that you’ll be discussing during this meeting.

Let me start with what is probably the single most important and far reaching issue we face today – responding to climate change.

As I am sure you may be aware, IMO is building on a strong foundation of recent achievement. In 2013, shipping became the first global industry to be subject to legally-binding energy-efficiency requirements when IMO regulations for both new and existing ships entered into force.

And 2018 saw the adoption of the initial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, paving the way for future action – a truly landmark achievement.

I cannot stress strongly enough how significant this hard-won decision is for the future of the planet. We now have a definite policy commitment for a complete phase-out of GHG emissions from ships, a specific linkage to the Paris Agreement, and clear levels of ambition – including at least a 50 per cent cut in emissions from the sector by 2050.

Detailed work on achieving these ambitions will continue in 2019. Member States are expected to build on their initial strategy by presenting firm proposals. These are likely to include strengthening the EEDI and SEEMP.

And, from 1 January 2019, ships over 5,000 gross tonnage will start collecting data on their fuel-oil consumption, which will allow Member States to make sound, fact-based decisions with reasoned, technical analysis.

Research and development will be crucial, as the targets agreed in the IMO strategy will not be met using fossil fuels. But to have this overall framework within which the technical discussions can now take place is a truly historic breakthrough.

2019 will also be a crucial year for implementing the reduced limit of the sulphur content in ships’ fuel-oil. It’s worth recalling that this major decision for the environment and for human health was first taken in 2008, and then confirmed in 2016. It clearly demonstrates IMO’s continuing commitment to the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants.

In this context, I note that IPTA has been very active in the Maritime Safety Committee and Marine Environment Protection Committee on fuel oil safety matters, as well as in the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response, as these issues will have direct impact on IPTA members. I am grateful for this collaborative approach, and would encourage further participation and contributions on these issues.  

The Marine Environment Protection Committee has already issued comprehensive ship implementation planning guidance, to help shipowners prepare for the new limit, including recommendations on tank cleaning and so on. And the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response has just finalized a complete set of Guidelines on consistent implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit, for approval by the Marine Environment Protection Committee in May this year.

Indeed, gearing up for implementation will be a prominent theme for shipping throughout 2019. For example, from April 2019, under the revised FAL Convention, ships and ports must exchange data electronically – preferably using the “single window” concept. This will help improve trade flows and is another step towards unleashing the full potential of a sustainable “blue economy.”

For all these coming requirements, preparation and forward planning by the shipping industry are crucial to ensure effective compliance and implementation. 

But what if we look even further ahead? Widespread use of autonomous vessels or smart ships used to be something that only far-sighted visionaries or futurists would talk about. But today, their arrival is very close. Digital disruption is expected to impact the shipping world very soon. Artificial intelligence, “big data”, automation and the “internet of things” will have a profound impact on shipping, and the wider logistics chain.

At IMO, we are actively preparing for this. Both the Legal and the Maritime Safety Committees are currently assessing existing IMO instruments to see how they might apply to ships with varying degrees of automation. The aim is to complete this scoping exercise in 2020. We are already looking at developing guidelines for trials of autonomous vessels – which will be absolutely essential if shipping is to embrace this new world.

While looking ahead, I want to take the opportunity to tell you about another important IMO initiative in the environmental arena.

Although discharging plastics into the sea is already prohibited under the MARPOL Convention, last year IMO recognized that more needs to be done. The Member States adopted an action plan to address the issue. It aims to enhance existing regulations and introduce new supporting measures to reduce marine plastic litter from ships.

The action plan provides IMO with a mechanism to identify specific outcomes, and actions to achieve these outcomes, in a way that is meaningful and measureable, building on existing policy and regulatory frameworks.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude with some other issues that I know are of very specific interest to this particular audience.

First – the multiple reports over the past five years of large lumps of waxy substances washing up on beaches in western and northern European countries.

Amendments to MARPOL Annex II have already been approved and they are expected to enter into force on 1 January 2021 if adopted by MEPC 74.

They will introduce a prewash requirement for chemical tankers unloading persistent floating substances with a high viscosity and/or a high melting point in western European and Baltic Sea ports, irrespective of the unloading temperature.

In this context, it is also important to recognize the need for appropriate port reception facilities being available. I have raised awareness on this matter, and will continue to do so, among IMO Member States that have ports in those areas and encourage them to anticipate and plan ahead for the increased demand for reception facilities to collect the tank washings resulting from the new prewash requirements.

And second – the comprehensive review of the IBC Code. I would especially like to thank the IPTA Secretariat for its involvement in revising the criteria, in chapter 21 of the Code, for assigning carriage requirements for transporting chemicals in bulk, as well as the review of the minimum requirements of the products listed in chapter 17 of the IBC Code.

And let me invite all chemical tanker operators to take note of the draft revised chapters of the IBC Code, especially chapter 17, and to be prepared for the updated carriage requirements by 1 January 2021.

Ladies and gentlemen, you have a busy agenda ahead and I will take up no more of your time. I wish you a successful conference, and look forward to continuing the strong, productive and collaborative working relationship that IPTA and IMO have enjoyed for many, many years.

Thank you.