IMO2020: Delay Please, Asks Saudi Arabia at Pollution Prevention Meeting

Friday February 9, 2018

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) meeting on preventing shipping pollution held in London this week saw the issue of a transitional period for implementing the 0.5% sulfur cap raised by delegates.

Sub-committee participant Saudi Arabia's suggestion that a transition be considered given the task facing the refinery sector to meet the demands of the new market emerging in the wake of the sulfur cap change was widely reported in the trade and businesss press. The Saudis had support from others attending the sub-committee on pollution prevention and response (PPR), notably Iran.

But the main thrust of the meeting was to look at how the new rule can implemented to give all players a level-playing field. Some shipping industry players fear the predicted price differential between grades of high and low sulfur bunker fuel will tempt some to flaut the rules.

One proposal coming from the shipping sector to meet that perceived threat is to ban the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil by ships.

According to maritime news provider Lloyd's List which reported from the meeting, the balance of power lies with those wanting to stick to the agreed date for implementing the new global sulfur cap.

"Major shipowning nations and industry lobbies are in favour of sticking to the date, and are even taking the lead in proposing enforcement mechanisms such as banning high sulphur fuels, leaving the opposition thin in numbers and clout," the news provider said.

Decisions from the PPR sub-committee go to the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee in April to be ratified.