Resolving shipping's safety concerns over low sulfur standard

Jun 01 2018

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) has submitted a paper to the IMO’s intersessional working group (ISWG) on the consistent implementation of the 2020 global fuel oil sulfur standard under MARPOL Annex VI.

The submission, which was co-sponsored by the Republic of Liberia, BIMCO, the ICS, INTERCARGO, INTERTANKO, and the World Shipping Council (WSC), is intended to assist the ISWG in developing guidelines on the implementation of regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI.


The regulation limits sulfur in fuel oil to 0.5% when operating outside of designated ECAs. It was decided at the 70th session of the IMO’s MEPC to retain 1st January, 2020 as the effective date for the shift to the 0.5% global fuel oil standard, issuing Resolution MEPC.280(70) to affirm this decision.


In addition, recognising concerns expressed regarding the implementation of this fuel oil standard, MEPC 71 agreed to establish a new output on what additional measures may be developed to promote consistent implementation of the 0.5% global fuel oil standard.


The RMI's submission to the IMO provides technical information focusing on safety implications and challenges associated with using new fuel oil blends compliant with the new 0.5% sulfur fuel oil standard.


The technical information, detailed in the submission’s annex, aims to cover a wide range of safety aspects associated with the switching of fuels, such as potential issues with blend components, stability, compatibility and other fuel oil parameters.


All of these issues are viewed as having the potential to negatively impact fuel and machinery systems. Accordingly, the technical information also touches upon operational and technical measures to address risks during fuel switching, tank cleaning and fuel system arrangements - heating capacities and tank segregation. 


This information is intended to facilitate informed decision making as the ISWG addresses preparatory and transitional issues, RMI said.


The co-sponsors also recommend that any consequential regulatory amendments and/or guidelines necessary to address the safety issues raised in the submission are brought to the attention of the MEPC at its next session in October this year.


Likewise, it is also proposed that any potential safety implications resulting from new blends or fuel types should be reported to the next MSC session, scheduled for December, 2018.


Theo Xenakoudis, director, Worldwide Business Operations, International Registries (IRI), said: "This paper allows the shipping community to have a voice in the development of rules that shape our industry. We are happy to be the catalyst for smart regulation that has been crafted with careful consideration from everyone it effects. Shipowners in particular will bear the impact of this transition and this will hopefully resolve some of the concerns about the regulation."


Alfa Laval has published a white paper detailing the impact of MARPOL Annex VI fuel strategies on boilers and burners.


’MARPOL Annex VI fuel strategies and their influence on combustion in boilers’ sheds light on a frequently overlooked aspect of meeting today’s SOx emission regulations, the company claimed.


To comply with MARPOL Annex VI, shipowners and operators can install a scrubber and continue using HFO, or they can work with one or more compliant fuels: LNG, MGO or low-sulfur/ultra-low-sulfur HFO. While the boiler is generally not a part of this decision, its operation will ultimately be affected.


“Depending on the choice made, there can be many different factors to consider when it comes to boilers and burners,” said Jeroen Van Riel, Global Service Manager, Boiler Service at Alfa Laval. “There may be boiler modifications needed to perform optimally with a scrubber, or there may be issues with fuel line safety and the properties of alternative fuels. New flame characteristics, for example, may produce different results with an existing boiler configuration.”


In the white paper, each MARPOL Annex VI fuel strategy is examined individually, together with its potential effects on boilers and their combustion. The paper does not argue for or against any of the strategies, but rather provides a clear and neutral overview from the perspective of steam production.


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