IMO 2020: Fuel Oil Carriage Ban Set For Adoption

Wednesday October 24, 2018

A ban on vessels carrying noncompliant HSFO when the IMO 2020 rule comes into force looks set for adoption, with a majority of member states at the 73rd session of the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 73) today expressing their support for the move to take effect from March 1, 2020.

Reporting today from IMO headquarters, the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) said a number of countries supported a proposal by Bangladesh seeking a delay to the ban "until the economic availability and sufficient supply of low sulphur fuel oil is ensured."

Some had even seen it as tactic to delay the effective start of the new global 0.50% sulfur cap that comes into force from January 1, 2020.

"We sympathise with the fears of developing countries, the least developed countries and small island developing states that higher transport cost may have a negative impact on their economies," IBIA said in a statement to MEPC 73 during discussion of the proposal.

"However, the paper from Bangladesh seems to suggest that delaying the high sulphur fuel oil carriage ban equals a delay to the implementation of the 2020 sulphur limit. This is not the case. It is simply a tool facilitate enforcement of the global sulphur limit more effectively. It is feared that without effective enforcement, the temptation to cheat will be enormous, putting those that do comply at a huge commercial disadvantage."

The Trident Alliance has earlier urged IMO member states to stand firm on the proposed fuel oil carriage ban, calling it a fundamental tool for securing strong global enforcement of the new IMO 2020 global sulfur cap.

The ban is expected to significantly ease enforcement as authorities would no longer need to prove that a vessel had been burning non-compliant fuel - simply having it onboard would be an offence.

The final regulatory text and formal adoption of the ban is now expected to come later this week.