The International Chamber of Shipping calls on IMO to speed up study of global availability of low-sulphur ship's bunkers.
ICS has been expressing concern for some time about whether sufficient fuel will be available to allow ships to comply with strict IMO regulations aimed at reducing sulphur emissions and whether, as result of insufficient supply, the costs for those ships which are able to obtain the required fuels might be prohibitively expensive.
In an important submission to the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), which meets in October, ICS is once again pressing IMO to start work now on a study that can consider the impact all of the major changes required by the new MARPOL regime, before it is too late for the oil refining industry to respond and invest.
There is already a formal mechanism in MARPOL Annex VI for IMO to complete a review, by 2018, of progress made towards meeting the demand for 0.5% sulphur fuel that must be used globally outside of Emission Control Areas (ECAs) by 2020 or 2025. However, ICS stresses that the enormity of the switch to distillate and its economic impact on shipping should not be underestimated.
ICS Secretary General, Peter Hinchliffe said: “Governments will surely want to avoid any perception that a blind eye has been turned to the practical implementation of the measures as the issue of fuel availability becomes increasingly pressing. It is essential that a global fuel availability study is carried out sufficiently in advance of 2020 in order to give the refiners adequate time to invest and react."
In its submission to IMO, ICS has suggested that a preliminary IMO study of the availability of compliant fuel, taking into account the introduction of the 0.1% sulphur in fuel requirements to be used in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and the North American ECAs in 2015, would provide a suitable test case. Such a study would provide a projection of possible scenarios resulting from the introduction of the 2015 0.1% ECA standard, against the background of the world market. This could then be considered in comparison with the real situation encountered in 2015.