The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) reported a number of significant, positive developments for the bunker industry following the meeting in London last week of the IMO Bulk Liquids & Gases (BLG) subcommittee.
Firstly, the subcommittee agreed to streamline proposals designed to reduce sulphur emissions from marine fuel oil. Three options now remain on the table, for discussion at MEPC 57 starting on March 31, 2008. These include a proposal lowering the global cap in two stages and removing the need for Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs), a lowering of sulphur limits in SECAs, and a lowering of the global sulphur limit alongside tighter SECA regimes and the possibility of even stricter so-called ‘micro-emissions control areas’ close to designated sensitive coastal areas.
IBIA secretary-general Ian Adams says, “IBIA took a full and active part in the BLG discussions. It remains committed to its position that all options which have the potential to limit harmful emissions from shipping must be examined and debated before a final decision is made. In as much as they provide a framework within which to take the debate forward, IBIA welcomes the BLG recommendations, and looks forward to taking part in representing the interests of the bunkering industry at the next round of discussions.”
On another subject, the BLG meeting also agreed that bunker vessels should be excluded from the debate about whether or not to impose more stringent controls and reporting procedures on ship-to-ship transfers of oil. Ian Adams says, “This is a major victory for common sense, for the bunkering industry, and for IBIA, which has continued to represent its members’ interests throughout this ongoing debate”.
IBIA was meanwhile one of four delegations asked to participate in discussions over the precision of testing methods used to determine sulphur content in marine fuel oils, and the so-called ‘grey area’ surrounding test results. A proposal has now been drawn up, for use in appropriate cases, which is based on ISO 4259, whereby the process for results in the ‘grey area’ is now clearly defined. Ian Adams says, “This is an important issue for all parties involved in the bunkering process. It is to be hoped that the proposal will provide for greater certainty and transparency in testing methods. There is no room for grey areas in this important subject, only green ones.”
Finally, IBIA was also able to report positive results following its ongoing intervention at IMO in support of the early adoption of a sensible and practical system covering the provision of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs). Ian Adams explains, “There was a general acceptance at the BLG meeting of the need to revise Annex 1 of MSC 150 (77), the IMO resolution incorporating MSDS recommendations, which is what IBIA has been campaigning for throughout. And, although there is still a little way to go, we are hopeful of being able to get to a position whereby we can have non-delivery-specific MSDSs, which will benefit seafarers while retaining the processes and procedures recommended by experts in the field.”
Adams concludes, “IBIA is the voice of the bunker industry, and the events at IMO last week show that it is a voice which commands respect, and which achieves positive results.”