IBIA Welcomes Annex VI, but Warns Industry

Thursday, June 03, 2004
The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) has welcomed the ratification of MARPOL Annex VI, but warns shipowners and bunker suppliers they need to act now if they are to meet with new low-sulphur requirements in bunker fuel. Shipowners and suppliers in North Europe will be particularly affected. Annex VI to Marpol will enter into force on May 19, 2005, imposing both global and, one year later, local limits on sulphur in bunker fuel, and imposing strict record keeping requirements on shipowners.

"A cleaner environment, with reduced levels of sulphur and nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere benefits everybody. With the ratification of MARPOL Annex VI, the IMO has introduced measures that are global in scope and coverage. We welcome that, because international legislation is the way forward. Regional moves by legislators would be counter-productive and create confusion and disruption within the shipping industry by imposing an over-complicated burden," says Ian Adams, IBIA secretary general.

However, IBIA says that shipowners and bunker suppliers should prepare now if they are to meet the requirements of Annex VI. The first Sox Emission Control Area (SECA) will be the Baltic Sea and this will enter into force in 2006. And in 2007 the North Sea and parts of the English Channel will also become SECAs. Ships operating inside a SECA will only be able to burn fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 1.5 per cent. A possible option incorporated into the legislation is for the use of approved abatement technology as an alternative to low sulphur fuel.

"Both the bunker and the shipping industries should prepare in earnest if they are to meet next year's deadline of May 19 and the subsequent SECA deadlines," says Adams. "Suppliers need to consider how they will meet demand for the low sulphur fuel, and shipowners need to consider how they will purchase, store and handle the different grades of fuel. Crew retraining must be a priority for them. I fear owners' organisation have been slow to alert their members to the challenges this will impose on them."

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