Ongoing Delays to IMO2020 Grade Fuel Spec a Concern: ICS

Wednesday June 19, 2019

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) say it is concerned with ongoing delays to the publication of a specification for IMO2020 grade fuels.

The specification is currently being developed by IMO's ISO 8217 working group and will eventually be released as a Publicly Available Specification (PAS 23263) rather than a revision to ISO8217.

"ICS remains concerned about continuing delays with the publication of the latest ISO Publicly Available Specification for low sulphur fuels, and related quality and safety issues where control depends on these standards being quickly finalised and distributed, given that the industry is only six months away from full global implementation," the group said in a statement released Tuesday.

With various IMO2020 grade fuels currently under development by suppliers, the lack of standard is an issue for producers and users alike who are trying to understand and compare the various new offerings available.

"It is vital that everyone concerned including governments, ISO, oil producers and bunker suppliers redouble their efforts to ensure that safe and compatible fuels – including 0.5% blends for those ships that choose to use them – will be available in every port worldwide," stated ICS Chairman, Esben Poulsson.

Many stakeholders still have serious reservations as to whether that supply will be there, with the Union of the Greek Shipowners (UGS) yesterday saying the lack of supply guarantee "is officially and widely acknowledged."

The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) in March said the PAS should be available in the second half of this year.

Whether it will be available in time to shape initial 2020 grade fuel formulas remains to be seen, but Poulsson nevertheless welcomed a move by IMO last week that will mean bunker suppliers will be "encouraged" by maritime administrations to provide only low sulfur fuels that meet the PAS and latest ISO8217:2017 standard.