An amendment to support consistent implementation of the forthcoming 0.50% limit on sulphur in ships fuel oil was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on Friday (26 October), during the current session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 73).
The new 0.50% limit (reduced from 3.50% currently) on sulphur in ships' fuel oil will be in force from 1 January 2020, under IMO's MARPOL treaty, with benefits for the environment and human health.
The complementary MARPOL amendment will prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil for combustion purposes for propulsion or operation on board a ship - unless the ship has an exhaust gas cleaning system ("scrubber") fitted. Installing a scrubber is accepted by flag States as an alternative means to meet the sulphur limit requirement.
The complementary amendment is expected to enter into force on 1 March 2020.
The amendment does not change in any way the entry into force date of the 0.50% limit from 1 January 2020. It is intended as an additional measure to support consistent implementation and compliance and provide a means for effective enforcement by States, particularly port State control.
Most ships are expected to utilize new blends of fuel oil which will be produced to meet the 0.50% limit on sulphur in fuel oil. Currently, the maximum sulphur limit in fuel oil is 3.50% globally (and 0.10 % in the four ECAs: the Baltic Sea area; the North Sea area; the North American area (covering designated coastal areas off the United States and Canada); and the United States Caribbean Sea area (around Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands)).
To assist ship operators and owners to plan ahead for the 0.50% sulphur 2020 limit, the MEPC approved guidance on ship implementation planning. The guidance is part of a set of guidelines being developed by IMO for consistent implementation of the MARPOL regulation coming into effect from 1 January 2020.
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