Bunkering guidance not included in IMO interim guidelines for LPG

Draft Interim Guidelines for the Safety of Ships Using LPG Fuels that were finalised at a recent IMO meeting do not provide detailed guidance on bunkering operations. In fact, details relating to bunkering operations that were part of earlier drafts were excluded from the final version during discussion at the 8th session of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC 8).

IBIA took part in CCC 8 which took place from 14 to 23 September, including the CCC 8 working group (WG) tasked with development of guidelines for low-flashpoint fuels.

While the WG discussed the draft interim guidelines for LPG in the WG, IBIA noted that the initial draft contained useful details regarding what’s required to ensure safety during LPG bunkering operations. However, these were not included in the final draft which will be sent to the 107th meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 107) for approval, expected in June 2023.

There is a short chapter on bunkering in the interim guidelines for LPG, but these provide only a few general comments to “provide for suitable systems on board the ship to ensure that bunkering can be conducted without causing danger to persons, the environment or the ship,” with very little detail.

The LPG interim guidelines have been closely aligned with the structure of the International Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or Other Low-Flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code). Many parts of it refers to specific parts of the IGF Code rather than providing details.

The same principle is being followed for other alternative fuels which CCC is working on developing interim guidelines for, recognising that they are different from LNG, which is the primary type of fuel that the IGF Code was developed for.

The purpose of these latest Interim Guidelines is to provide an international standard for ships using LPG as fuel, addressing all areas that need special consideration for the use of LPG as fuel.

The draft states: “The basic philosophy is to provide provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using LPG as fuel to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment, having regard to the nature of the fuels involved.

Following discussion in the WG at CCC 8 about not including details related to bunkering operations in the draft, it was decided instead to “invite interested Member States and international organizations to develop guidance for LPG bunkering to assist crews, bunker suppliers and ports in delivering LPG fuel to ships.”

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