The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) has welcome a decision by the International Maritime Organization (IMO)'s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) to add a new item to its agenda to address concerns about fuel safety, separating the subject from discussions around the implementation of the new 0.50% sulphur limit under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI.
According to an IBIA release, the decision was made at the 100th session of MSC held at IMO’s London headquarters in the first week of December. It followed discussion of a proposal put forward by Liberia and a group of shipping organisations to bring all fuel safety related requirements of regulation 18 of MARPOL Annex VI under MSC, preferably by developing regulatory amendments to incorporate these provisions within the SOLAS Convention.
The subject was discussed at length at MSC 100 and views were divergent about the best way forward. IBIA urged caution on the proposal to incorporate safety provisions in SOLAS, telling MSC 100 that the proposal was vague with regards to how safety aspects might be incorporated in the regulation.
IBIA said the ISO 8217 marine fuel standard, meanwhile, is adaptable and can be updated as and when new information becomes available and is well understood with regards which parameters have an impact on the safe use of fuel.
At present, the minimum 60°C flash point limit for marine fuels is covered both under SOLAS and ISO 8217. That has not, however, prevented fuels with off-spec flashpoint from being supplied to ships. ISO 8217 covers several other safety-related parameters which are routinely tested for and while off-specs do happen, the vast majority of fuels supplied meet the limits.
After a long debate, MSC 100 agreed that while fuel safety was a longstanding existing concern which needed to be carefully addressed, this should not affect Member States’ commitment to implementing the 2020 sulphur limit. It was also agreed that MSC does need to address safety issues and that this will be included in its agenda for MSC 101 as a new item on “Development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil”.
Member States and international organisations were invited to submit concrete proposals to MSC 101 under this new agenda item. The scope of work was agreed as follows: “Based on the review of existing safety provisions for fuel oil and information concerning the safety implications associated with the use of fuel oil, develop further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil”. The target completion date is 2021.
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