New Sulfur Declaration Now Required on BDNs

Wednesday January 9, 2019

Mandatory amendments to bunker delivery notes (BDNs) entered into force on January 1, 2019, requiring suppliers to make a clear declaration about the sulfur content of supplied fuel.

IMO says the amendments, which have been made to Appendix V of MARPOL Annex VI, are intended to address situations where the supplied bunkers do not meet the sulfur cap requirements, but are supplied to a ship which is using a permitted alternative method of compliance such as a scrubber.

As the global sulfur cap for marine fuel is 3.50%, and the average sulfur content of HSFO is around 2.7%, non-compliance with the current cap outside of ECAs is typically not an issue.

But a new global 0.50% sulfur cap coming into force from January 1, 2020 that effectively rules out the use of the current HSFO bunker fuels unless they are burned on a scrubber-equipped vessel, non-compliance is more of a concern.

It should be noted that contrary to some reports the change does not mean suppliers have to ensure that their fuel is compliant, a point recently clarified by IBIA Director Unni Einemo.

"It has been suggested by various interested parties that the new supplier's declaration puts an obligation on suppliers to ensure the ship has an approved exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS) before supplying fuel with sulphur exceeding the sulphur limit in regulation 14.1, which is 3.50% at present, falling to 0.50% on 1 January 2020," she wrote.

"This is not the case and the regulation is clear. It requires bunker suppliers, if asked to provide fuel exceeding the sulphur limit in Regulation 14.1 to a ship, to do so only on the basis of receiving a notification from the buyer that the fuel is intended to be used compliantly. There is no requirement on the supplier to check if this is the case – only to obtain a 'notification'."

As detailed by the IMO, the new rules state that the bunker delivery note shall include a declaration signed and certified by the fuel oil supplier's representative that the fuel oil supplied is in conformity with regulation 18.3 of MARPOL Annex VI and that the sulfur content of the fuel oil supplied does not exceed:

  • the limit outside ECAS (currently 3.50%, falling to 0.50% from 1 January 2020) under regulation 14.1;
  • the limit in emission control areas (0.10% m/m) under regulation 14.4;  or 
  • the purchaser's specified limit value, on the basis of the purchaser's notification that the fuel oil is intended to be used:
  1. in combination with an equivalent means of compliance; or
  2. is subject to a relevant exemption for a ship to conduct trials for sulphur oxides emission reduction and control technology research.

While the new Appendix V has recommended text checkboxes for the declaration, Einemo also notes that the format and text can be rephrased. Indeed, IBIA says the clarity of the BDN can be improved by stating the actual sulfur limits associated with each tick box.

IBIA's full advice notice can be found here: