Cassandra Higham, Head of Marketing, Global Marine and Energy, Castrol. Image Credit: Castrol
The IMO's 0.5% global sulphur cap will come into force on January 1, 2020 and will arguably have the biggest impact on the shipping industry since the move from coal to oil. It is set to transform an already-complex marine energy supply chain as a suite of new, compliant fuels become commonly used across the market.
In this new world, we must be prepared to face the 'known unknowns' – which include everything from fuel availability to compatibility, as well as compliance enforcement. In this rigorous regulatory environment, it is key that owners continue to build their knowledge around how each 'unknown' could potentially impact the health of their engines – and prepare for short and long-term challenges.
Most importantly, these changes will require previously routine engine room operational tasks to be looked at in more detail, particularly through increased training and education. A new pace of change is setting in and something that the industry must familiarise itself with as the timetable for compliance shifts into weeks – weeks into days – and days into hours.
the wrong lubricant with the wrong fuel could cause engine damage
For example - the IMO's Ship Implementation Plan (SIP) compliance guidance is designed to ensure that fuel and lubricant supply chains are planned up to and after the implementation date. In addition to the SIP, owners already have extremely strong tools to support in safe, compliant, optimised operations, including used oil analysis, condition monitoring and other engine room processes that extend and improve engine life.
Fundamentally, at the engine room level, a vessel needs three things to operate safely and efficiently: fuels for propulsion, well maintained engine hardware, and, crucially, the right lubricant to support both of these. If not adapted and changed in tandem, the wrong lubricant with the wrong fuel could cause engine damage, potentially resulting in downtime, loss of earnings and operators being stuck with the costs of repair.
As the industry readies itself around new operating patterns and models, suppliers too will have to change, embracing new means of getting their products onboard vessels, no matter where they are in the world. This will include finding smarter ways to ensure vital supply chains are not impacted – and incorporate digital supply chain initiatives to avoid consequential impacts on their bottom line. Clearly, suppliers also have a role to play in ensuring that safety and efficiencies are maintained while going through these complex changes.
Through cooperation and planning owners can ensure minimal disruption and dodge the unintended consequences of 2020 compliance. As the clock ticks closer to 2020, shipowners must enter into this change with a fresh mindset, and one that is deeply based on cooperation with peers to solve problems and find innovative ways to prepare for compliance.