IMO 2020: Safe Bunkers Should Take Precedence Over Compliance, Says Greek Owners Group

Monday October 29, 2018

The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) has stressed the importance of understanding the impact that IMO 2020 bunker fuels will have on ship and crew safety, and when the upcoming global 0.50% sulfur cap on marine fuels comes into force from January 1, 2020, safety should take precedence over compliance.

In the run up to MEPC 73 last week, UGS President, Theodore Veniamis, put great emphasis on safety concerns arising from IMO 2020, particularly in light of the "surge of fuel contamination instances" in recent months - something many saw as a warning as to what could happen in 2020 when a raft of new 0.50% sulfur products are expected to emerge on the market.

Having already warned in the run up to MEPC73 that "IMO should not allow a trade-off between formal compliance and the safety of ships, crews and protection of the environment," UGS today welcomed various decisions from last week's key IMO meeting, particularly with regard to the safety implications of IMO 2020 bunker fuels.

"We are pleased to see that the safety aspects of the transition to low-sulphur marine fuels have been recognized and will be considered within the UN IMO structure and work programme. The UGS has stressed on several occasions that this should be the case and that the safety of life at sea should take precedence over formal compliance," said Veniamis.

"We are looking to the UN IMO for an enhanced implementation process with regard to the 2020 marine fuels, which will provide safeguards against the safety and operational issues already detected and which will not burden the ships and their crews with unrealistic and disproportionate responsibility and liability.

"It is important that the UN IMO's work on an enhanced implementation process is not discouraged by commercial considerations which oppose it on the grounds that it allegedly delays measures for the protection of the environment. Overlooking real challenges which can result in a major threat to ships' crews and machinery, and by extension, to the marine environment cannot be regarded as proactive."