Global sulfur cap - time is running out

May 11 2018

“Time is fast running out” for implementation by IMO member states of the 0.5% global sulfur in fuel cap set for 1st January, 2020, Esben Poulsson, International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) chairman has stressed.

The sulfur cap is expected to see shipping’s bunker prices increase significantly.


“While ICS fully supports the objectives of the IMO cap, the overnight introduction of this regulatory game-changer will have enormous implications for ship operations.It will be vital to get the implementation right.


“As well as concerns as to whether sufficient quantities of compliant low sulfur fuels will be available in every port, there are a number of complex practical issues which IMO needs to urgently resolve within the next 18 months if the unfair treatment of ships is to be avoided,”he said.


In the absence of agreed standards for new fuels, including blends that will be compliant with the 0.5% sulfur limit but which may differ in their composition from port to port, ICS is very concerned this could lead to serious compatibility and mechanical problems.


While the industry is fully committed to immediate implementation, there could possibly be an initial period of ‘teething problems’ when suitable compliant fuel might not always be available in every port until it can be shipped in from elsewhere. 


This is more likely to be a significant problem for tramp ships calling at diverse port destinations, which are not always known long in advance.


If 0.5% sulfur fuel is not available in every port worldwide, ICS said that ships may still bunker and use other compliant fuels, such as 0.1% distillate, but warns this raises other serious issues not least those relating to compatibility.


Poulsson emphasised; “It is vital that ship operators, charterers and fuel purchasers start making the necessary preparations to be ready for this major change. This also means that oil refiners and bunker suppliers will need to ensure that compliant fuels are actually available for ships to purchase well in advance of January, 2020.”


These comments were made in the introduction to the new ICS Annual Review, published in advance of the ICS AGM in Hong Kong next week.  (see Tanker Operator, May issue, page 40) 


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