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Friday, June 28, 2019 

At a recent roundtable industry meeting hosted by IMO at its London Headquarters, participants were updated on the latest guidance, treaty amendments and other instruments emanating from IMO to support the implementation of the 'sulphur 2020' rule.

Industry participants from the shipping, oil refinery and bunker industries welcomed the effort made by IMO to address concerns and reviewed progress towards implementation. The IMO Secretariat highlighted the latest decisions emanating from MEPC 74, including adoption of guidelines on consistent implementation, port State control and other guidance; and from MSC 101, including the adoption of Recommended interim measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of oil fuel.

Industry participants reported on their work, including the latest version of the ICS Guidance to Shipping Companies and Crews on Preparing for Compliance with the 2020 'Global Sulphur Cap' which will be published in the first week of July 2019; a Joint Industry Project developing industry guidelines with a focus on safety to support implementation, including training; updated charter clauses developed to address sulphur 2020 and fuel issues; investment by the oil refining industry in new blends of fuel oil to meet the limit; and potentially linking sulphur 2020 provisions with current ship inspection programmes.

Views were exchanged on the general availability of fuel to meet the 0.50% limit, with ships expected to begin taking on 0.50% low sulphur blended fuels from October/November onwards, in order to be ready for 1 January 2020. The International Energy Agency (IEA), has forecasted that refineries will have capacity to make the compliant fuel oil available. Participants urged the need for the refinery and bunker industry to continue, and strengthen where possible, their efforts to provide sufficient compliant fuels as early as possible to allow more ships to test trial for experience gaining. There was also a need for more information on the new fuel products to be made widely available.

Potential safety issues with new blends of fuel oil have been recognised and IMO guidelines provide advice on steps to take to address those risks. ISO is issuing a standard covering 0.5% sulphur fuels.  Participants highlighted the need to provide further information on arising safety issues and to enhance crew training in anticipation of the new fuels being made available before the end of 2019, and to highlight the safety aspects in particular.

Consistent enforcement by port State control was recognised as essential to ensure a level playing field and ensure the shipping market would not become distorted. Participants recognized the need to further improve reporting and information sharing through the IMO Global Integrated Shipping Information system (GISIS).

Participants further agreed on the need to continue to raise awareness. IMO will publish a compilation of all related guidance, best practices and so on, as a single IMO publication this year, and  plans to hold a conference to provide updates on planning for 2020.

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