The IMO has developed guidelines for taking so-called “onboard” samples of fuel from ships, a move that will enable relevant authorities to take samples to check if ships are complying with the high sulphur fuel oil carriage ban that takes effect on 1 March.
Ships are alrady prohibited from using fuel with sulphur above 0.50% sulphur under MARPOL Annex VI as of 1 January 2020. The carriage ban means they will not be allowed to carry it in their fuel tanks either. Only ships with approved exhaust gas cleaning systems can use and carry HSFO in their fuel tanks.
The draft ‘2020 Guidelines for sampling of fuel oil intended to be used or carried for use on board a ship’ were agreed at the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 7) last week.
The objective was to ensure that such samples can be taken in a safe and consistent manner to allow authorities to assess whether ships are complying with the carriage ban. The samples can be sent for testing to varify compliance, applying the sulphur verification procedures agreed at the 74th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 74). This means a test result up to and including 0.53% sulphur would be considered as having met the regulatory requirement because the 95% confidence limit is applied to in-use and onboard samples taken from ships.
Shipping organisations raised concerns about whether samples collected in accordance with the new onboard sampling guidelines would be representative of the actual sulphur content in the tank. PPR 7 nevertheless agreed on the guidelines because they are needed to support enforcement efforts.
The draft guidelines will be forwarded to MEPC 75, which meets 30 March to 3 April 2020, with a view to adoption.