MEPC 71 – summary of key outcomes

IBIA has been fighting the corner for our members at the International Maritime Organization this week as its Marine Environment Protection Committee met for its 71st session. As the meeting draws to a close this Friday, here is a quick summary of some of the outcomes we expect is of most interest to our members.

2020 sulphur limit: MEPC 71 agreed to the draft justification and scope prepared by its Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) to add a new item to the working agenda of the Committee with regards to effective implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit in 2020. It did not accept a proposal to add a new item to the scope suggesting to collect data on the supply situation closer to 2020. It will, however, include a specific request from the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) to add to the scope a consideration of the safety implications relating to 0.50% sulphur fuel blended. The work on this new agenda item will start at PPR 5 in February 2018.

Bunker delivery note (BDN): The text approved at MEPC 70 was formally adopted, despite issues pointed out by IBIA. There was, however, some support for IBIA’s views and proposals and we sought clarifications on how the issues raised can be addressed in practice. We will advise our members accordingly.

Greenhouse gas (GHG): After considerable debate, which centred on the key principles of how the needs of developing countries can be taken into account while also respecting that IMO regulations must apply equally to ships of all flags, we now have an outline for the structure of the draft initial IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships. In brief, it means the IMO will strive to define a vision and what level of ambition it should signal with regards to limiting emissions it should agree to in 2018, what can be done to achieve reductions, and periodically review the Strategy to adjust various elements.

Fuel oil quality: The co-coordinator of the Correspondence Group (CG) on fuel oil quality, which IBIA participates in, presented the draft guidance best practice for fuel oil purchasers/users and for Member States/coastal States. The draft for Member States/coastal States was not yet fully developed and needs to go back to the CG, but it was hoped the draft guidance for fuel oil purchaser/users could be completed at this session. Further work was done on the draft but the resulting document still needs refinement. Proposals have been invited to MEPC 72 to improve the draft guidelines then.

HFO in the Arctic: MEPC 71 agreed to add a new agenda item to the Committee’s work on development of measures to reduce risks of use and carriage of heavy fuel oil as fuel by ships in Arctic waters. The next MEPC meeting will define the nature of the work to be done.

Ballast water management (BWM): The Committee approved draft amendments to the regulation which sets the dates by which ships must install BWM treatment systems. In essence, it is a two-year delay to the previous requirement for when existing ships will have to install such systems after the BWM Convention enters into force on 8 September 2017. For most existing ships, this means they have to install BWM systems at the first renewal survey for the ship associated with the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate after September 8, 2019*, but it may be sooner, but no later than 8 September 2024.

More detailed reports will follow next week on the above and other items of interest to our members.
*This information has been amended.

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