IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim says the implementation of new International rules limiting the sulphur content of fuel used by ships has gone relatively smoothly.
“I believe it is testimony to the diligence and dedication of IMO, its Member States, the shipping industry, the fuel supply industry and other relevant industries that such a major rule change is being implemented successfully without significant disruption to maritime transport and those that depend on it,” Secretary-General Lim said in a prepared statement released Tuesday.
Under so-called IMO 2020 regulation, as of January 1, 2020 all ships trading internationally are required to use’ fuel oil with a maximum sulphur content limit of reduced to 0.5%, down from the previous 3.5% limit, unless they are equipped with exhaust gas cleaning systems, aka scrubbers.
The IMO says information from various sources have indicated a “relatively smooth” transition to the 0.5% limit. As of January 20, the IMO said it had received reports of 10 cases of fuel shortages and no specific reports of issues sent to a dedicated email address to report such issues.
“Prices for compliant fuels – very-low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) and marine gas oil (MGO) rose quickly initially but now appear to be stabilizing,” the statement said.
Looking ahead, however, the shipping industry now must prepare for the March 1, 2020 deadline on the ban of the carriage of non-compliant fuel.
“The next important target is fast approaching, when carrying non-compliant fuel oil on board ships becomes prohibited on 1 March 2020. I urge all shipowners, operators and masters to comply with the carriage ban, where applicable, when it comes into effect,” said Secretary-General Lim. “IMO will remain vigilant and ready to respond and provide any support. I would like to thank, sincerely, IMO Member Governments, the shipping industry and all stakeholders, including shippers and the fuel oil supply industry, for their efforts so far and to ask for further cooperation to ensure IMO 2020 is implemented properly.”