Governments and industry representatives met in London during the current London International Shipping Week to discuss the future availability of low-sulphur fuel which will be needed for ships to burn in order to comply with planned anti-air pollution legislation.
The sulphur limit for fuel used in seas other than specially designated emission control areas, which have stricter limits, is currently 3.50%, and will be reduced to 0.50% from 1 January 2020 – subject to a review of the availability of 0.50% sulphur fuel.
As part of London International Shipping Week, Secretary-General of the IMO, Koji Sekimizu, and Shipping Minister Stephen Hammond hosted an event for invited representatives of maritime nations and international industry associations at which the hosts stressed the importance of dispelling the uncertainty which surrounds the start date for the review and highlighted a way forward.
Mr Sekimizu said:
"IMO has set a goal for sulphur regulations in 2008 and the current global target is set for 2020. It is important for IMO to act now to have a clear picture on the availability of the required quantity of the low-sulphur fuel as soon as possible.
Annex VI stipulates that the review must be completed by 2018, but there is nothing to say that it cannot be completed earlier. Indeed, there is a strong argument that early completion of the review of the availability of low sulphur fuel will give more time for all concerned, including the refinery industry, to take the necessary action and react in time to meet the requirements if such a need is identified."
Mr Hammond said:
"Reaching agreement on the new sulphur limits in 2008 was a notable achievement, and as a consequence enhanced the reputation of the IMO. Now it is vital to agree the timing of this review. Uncertainty around dates is likely to delay crucial investment decisions and industry needs a clear steer. All sectors of the shipping and petro-chemical industry would be better able to plan, control costs and manage the transition once we have a date for the review."
Mr Hammond added that the UK plans to submit a paper on the subject for the consideration of the next session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee next spring.