IMO: There will be no delay on 2020 Sulphur Fuel Regulation

Luthfil Hadi - Jakarta, 03/10/2018, 13:00


Edmund Hughes, the Head of Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency of IMO’s Marine Environment division said that the regulation will not be postponed.  Even though seen as controversial, Hughes is confident that the majority of ship owners will comply.

The new regulation force the ship owner to reduce the sulphur emission from 3.50% to 0.50% and will start on January 1st 2020. It is predicted that the regulation will affect many things, starting from global oil price to global trade. However, IMO keep adamant that they will put the regulation in force starting January 1st 2020.

Edmund Hughes said that giving the people confidence and moving forward to implement the regulation is important. He is confident that the upgrade on the shipping industries fuel will success. The confidence came from seeing the preparation done by the refinery and shipping industries in the past year.

Hughes said that the smallest delay could damage IMO’s credibility and reputation as rule making body. He also said in an interview at Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference that a slight delay could cause great uncertainty on every sector.

According to UN data, 80% of global trade are done on ocean. The change in regulation enacted by IMO is designed to reduce the air pollution coming from ships. The air pollution has oftentimes linked to health issues such as asthma and environment disaster such as acid rain.

Shipping trade group along with 4 countries which has thousands of registered ships suggested that the enactment of the regulation is done in phased stage. This suggestion came in consideration of safety and security factor. They are afraid that the regulation could put a strain on refinery industries, furthermore an incompatible fuel on engine could lead to accidents.

High Compliance Level

With the vast membership of IMO and many countries that has signed the regulation, Hughes predicted the compliance level could reach 96%. Since the majority of global trade ship owners have agreed to the regulation. In the future, any ships that don’t comply with the rule will be inspected regularly. The inspection will only stop after the ship has comply.

IMO plans to ban ships that are still using inappropriate fuel, starting on March 2020 in the earliest. Hughes seen this as an effort to lessen the burden on government to punish the cheating ships.

The responsibility to enforce the regulation falls to the flag states of the ship. However, after the ban on fuel is enacted, the responsibility will be taken over by the port states.

Hughes said that he can’t guarantee 100% compliance. He also said that it is an important task to make sure the shipping industries and port states to understand that rather than an option, compliance is an obligation.


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