IMO considering possible measures relating to ‘parameters other than flashpoint’
Concerns about fuel quality impacting on ship safety in the run-up to the IMO 2020 sulphur limit has led to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee to take on an agenda item called “Development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of oil fuel.”
The work on this agenda item has, in the first instance, focused on flashpoint, with regulatory amendments under SOLAS and associated guidelines scheduled for completion at MSC 105 in 2022.
After that, attention will turn to “oil fuel parameters other than flashpoint”. This is the least developed part of work undertaken by MSC, and probably also the most complex.
The 103rd session of MSC (MSC 103) in May 2021 had only a brief discussion on “other parameters”, as development of flashpoint measures took up most of the available time.
A work plan was drawn up for items to be progressed, much of it closely related to the development of the ISO 8217 fuel quality standard. Items the IMO wants to look at more closely to enhance safety of ships include fuel oil stability, compatibility, cold flow properties, acid number, cat fines, the use of low viscosity fuels, and finally the most complex aspect regarding “unusual components” in fuel oil.
Several informative documents have been provided to the IMO’s work on this subject, including the Joint Industry Guidance document published in September 2019 called “The Supply and use of 0.50% – sulphur marine fuel“ which IBIA took part in developing.
One element that was discussed at MSC 103 was a call for implementing licensing schemes for bunker suppliers, which some Members States insist is necessary while others are not in favour. The outcome was an agreement that MSC “invited Member States to consider the implementation of licensing schemes for bunker suppliers operating in their jurisdiction”, with a reference to the need for collaboration with MEPC, which is due to consider a voluntary indicative example of such schemes at MEPC 76 later this month.
The upcoming meeting of the 76th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 76) is due to consider an “indicative example” for a voluntary licensing scheme for bunker suppliers as the basis for an annex to the official IMO Guidance for best practice for Member State/coastal State (MEPC.1/Circ.884). The proposal, MEPC 75/5/2, has been considered and developed further in a correspondence group, which IBIA has taken part in with assistance from the IBIA Technical Working Group.