MEPC 74 preview

May 03 2019

The IMO has circulated a preview of this month’s MEPC 74, due to be held between 13th and 17th May.

Starting with the amendments, MEPC is expected to adopt draft amendments to MARPOL Annex II to strengthen, in specified sea areas, discharge requirements for cargo residues and tank washings containing persistent floating products with a high-viscosity and/or a high melting point that can solidify under certain conditions (eg certain vegetable oils and paraffin-like cargoes), following concerns about the environmental impact of permissible discharges.

In addition, draft MARPOL amendments to allow for electronic record books to be used are set to be adopted, for Annex I - Oil Record Book Part I – Machinery space operations and Oil Record Book Part II – Cargo/ballast operations; Annex II - Cargo Record Book; and Annex V - Garbage Record Book; and Annex VI for records relating to Regulation 12 – Ozone-depleting substances, Regulation 13 – Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and Regulation 14 – Sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter

Another draft amendment to MARPOL Annex VI is set to be adopted, relating to the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) regulations for ice-strengthened ships, replacing the words "cargo ships having icebreaking capability" with "category A ships as defined in the Polar Code".

A comprehensive set of draft amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), including the draft revised chapters 17 (summary of minimum requirements), 18 (list of products to which the code does not apply), 19 (index of products carried in bulk) and 21 (criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code) are set to be adopted.

Consequential draft amendments to the Code for the construction and equipment of ships carrying dangerous chemicals in bulk (BCH Code) are also expected to be adopted.

As for ships’ emissions, MEPC 74 will discuss how to implement the initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, which was adopted in April, 2018.

An Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, meeting the week before MEPC 74 (7th-10th May), will report to the committee. Furthermore, a working group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships is expected to be established during the meeting. 

A draft resolution to invite member states to encourage voluntary co-operation between the port and shipping sectors to contribute to reducing GHG emissions from ships will be discussed. Measures that ports can take include onshore power supply, provision for bunkering of sustainable low and zero-carbon fuels, incentives which promote low and zero-carbon shipping and support for optimisation of port calls.

Feeding in to the process towards the adoption of a revised strategy in 2023 will be the data collection system on fuel oil consumption of ships over 5,000 gt, which began on 1st January, 2019. The Committee is expected to agree on methodology for conducting the analysis of ship fuel oil consumption data.

Further work is expected on energy efficiency of ships - an EEDI review.

The MEPC will also discuss the minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions.

Turning to IMO 2020, the organisation has been working with member states and the industry to support implementation of the new low sulfur limit, including the preparation of draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to support consistent implementation of the 0.5% sulfur limit and development of guidance and guidelines. 

MEPC 74 is expected to approve draft guidelines and guidance documents, developed by the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 6), including:

•             2019 Guidelines for consistent implementation of the 0.5% sulfur limit under MARPOL Annex VI;

•             2019 Guidelines for Port State Control under the revised MARPOL Annex VI;

•             Guidance for PSC on contingency measures for addressing non-compliant fuel oil;

•             MEPC Circular on the 2019 Guidelines for on board sampling for the verification of the sulfur content of the fuel oil used on board ships;

•             MSC-MEPC circular on delivery of compliant fuel oil by suppliers, subject to approval by MSC 101 in June.

With regards to fuel oil quality, the MEPC will consider draft guidance for best practice for member and coastal states, as well as a proposal for a bunker supplier licensing scheme.

The BWM Convention, entered into force in September, 2017 and has, to date, been ratified by 81 countries, representing 80.76% of world merchant shipping tonnage. Amendments to the treaty, relating, inter alia, to implementation timelines, were adopted during MEPC 72. 

The main focus now is on its effective and uniform implementation, and on an experience-building phase. MEPC will consider proposals related to ballast water sampling and analysis, including revisions to the data gathering and analysis plan for the experience-building phase associated with the BWM Convention (BWM.2/Circ.67), to incorporate a link to standard operating procedures.

Amongst other matters, the MEPC is expected to:

•             Approve draft amendments, for future adoption, to the International Convention for the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships (AFS Convention), to include controls on the biocide cybutryne. 

•             Approve four circulars containing new or updated guidance relevant to the assessment and carriage of chemicals in bulk, including the draft revised MEPC circular on the Guidelines for the provisional assessment of liquid substances transported in bulk.

•             Approve the methodology to analyse the impacts of a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel in Arctic waters.

•             Approve the draft guide on practical implementation of the pollution prevention and response treaties (OPRC Convention and the OPRC-HNS Protocol).

‘Tanker Operator News’ will publish a roundup of the decisions/recommendations made after the meeting.


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