MSC 105 approves new IMO regulations on flashpoint
A set of SOLAS amendments designed to prevent the supply of fuels in breach of the 60°C SOLAS limit have been approved by the 105th session of Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 105), and are expected to be formally adopted in November this year at MSC 106.
IBIA has worked hard to ensure the amendments are pragmatic and workable, after a majority of Member States and other NGOs with consultative status at the IMO decided to add a range of new requirements under SOLAS.
Work on these amendments have been going on for years under an agenda item called “Development of Further Measures to Enhance the Safety of Ships Relating to the Use of Fuel Oil”. IBIA has taken active part in this work, including in the Correspondence Group on Oil Fuel Safety working between MSC meetings.
The SOLAS amendments will make it mandatory for all cases where “oil fuel suppliers have failed to meet the requirements specified in SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1” and for the appropriate authorities to “take action as appropriate against oil fuel suppliers” that have been found to deliver non-compliant fuel.
While these SOLAS amendments are straightforward, discussions have centred on the difficulties associated with defining “confirmed cases” and new requirements on suppliers for documentation and assurances regarding flashpoint.
During MSC 105, a working group was tasked with finalising the relevant SOLAS amendments, taking into account the report of the Correspondence Group and two other submissions; one from IBIA (MSC 105/5/1) and one from China (MSC 105/5/2) as well as the outcome of MEPC 77.
You can find a copy of MSC 105/5/1 by IBIA by clicking HERE.
Many interested parties have been calling for a mandatory requirement for suppliers to document the actual flashpoint on the bunker delivery note (BDN) regardless of temperature. IBIA has said throughout that a supplier declaration of compliance would be sufficient as part of the SOLAS amendments. Recognising that a majority was seeking a requirement for a specific flashpoint value to be recorded on the BDN, IBIA strongly recommend requiring only values below 70°C to be specifically documented.
Following long discussions in the working group; IBIA’s proposals in MSC 105/5/1 were either followed or partially used. A majority of the working group recognised that testing to determine if the fuel has a flashpoint above 70°C is sufficient to guarantee it is above the 60°C minimum.
The following draft amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-2 were approved at MSC 105:
Part A: General – Regulation 3
The following new paragraphs are added after existing paragraph 58, together with the associated footnotes:
59 Confirmed case (flashpoint): A confirmed case is when a representative sample analysed in accordance with standards acceptable to the Organization* by an accredited laboratory** reports the flash point as measured to be below 60°C.
* ISO 2719:2016- Determination of flash point – Pensky-Martens closed cup method, Procedure A (for Distillate Fuels) or Procedure B (for Residual Fuels)
** The laboratory is to be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2017 or an equivalent standard for the performance of the given flash point test ISO 2719:2016.
60 Representative sample is a product specimen having its physical and chemical characteristics identical to the average characteristics of the total volume being sampled.
61 Oil fuel is defined in regulation 1 of Annex 1 of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto.
Part B: Prevention of fire and explosion – Regulation 4
Probability of ignition
The following new paragraphs are added after existing paragraph 2.1.5, together with the associated footnotes:
.6 ships carrying oil fuel shall prior to bunkering be provided with a declaration signed and certified by the fuel oil supplier’s representative that the oil fuel supplied is in conformity with regulation SOLAS II.2/4.2.1 and the test method used for determining the flashpoint. A bunker delivery note for the fuel delivered to the ship shall contain the flashpoint specified in accordance with standards acceptable to the Organization*, or a statement that flashpoint has been measured at or above 70ºC**;
* ISO 2719:2016, Determination of flash point – Pensky-Martens closed cup method, Procedure A (for Distillate Fuels) or Procedure B (for Residual Fuels)
** This information may be included in the bunker delivery note according MARPOL Annex VI/18
.7 the Contracting Governments undertake to ensure that appropriate authorities designated by them inform the Organization for transmission to Contracting Governments and Member States of the Organization of all confirmed cases where oil fuel suppliers have failed to meet the requirements specified in SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1; and
.8 the Contracting Governments undertake to ensure that appropriate authorities designated by them take action as appropriate against oil fuel suppliers that have been found to deliver fuel that does not comply with regulation SOLAS regulation II-2/4.2.1.
If adopted at MSC 106 in November this year, these SOLAS amendments are expected to enter into force as of 1 January, 2026. Individual governments may decide to implement the amendments early.
The 77th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 77), which met in November 2021, considered draft amendments to amend Appendix V – Information to be included in the bunker delivery note (Regulation 18.5) by adding “Flashpoint (°C)” to the list of information, below “Sulphur content (% m/m)”. (More info HERE)
MEPC 77 decided to await the outcome of MSC 105 on the flashpoint data that ought to be recorded and reported in relation to safety. (More info HERE)
MSC therefore invited MEPC 78, which meets for a week from 6 June, to note the draft SOLAS amendments with regard to flashpoint.