IMO hoping to decide global cap timing in October this year

IMO 2The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is hoping to reach a decision in October this year regarding the timing of a global 0.50% sulphur cap for marine fuels.

The 69th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 69) meeting in London this week has agreed in principle to decide on the timing at its 70th session (MEPC 70) in October.

By then, the Committee members will have the result of a study aiming to answer the question: will there be enough compliant 0.50% sulphur fuel to implement the cap in 2020, or should it be deferred until 2025?

A draft of the report should be ready in late May and the final report should be completed in July, well ahead of MEPC 70.

An early decision is desired to give all sides of the industry as much time as possible to prepare for this major shift, from a global 3.50% sulphur cap to 0.50%.

Although the Committee agreed in principle to decide on the timing of the global cap at the October session, whether it will be able to do so depends on the information in the availability study , and how the Committee’s members react to it.

If the study’s conclusions are unambiguous with regard to whether or not there will be sufficient availability of low sulphur fuels in 2020, the decision should be straight forward.

If, however, there is room for doubt, it could prove challenging. In that scenario, the committee may decide it needs more time to consider the report, or, if a signature state to MARPOL Annex VI asks for it, it could lead to a vote on the implementation date for the global 0.50% sulphur cap.

A detailed report on the outcomes and implications of discussions at MEPC 69 will be available in the summer edition of World Bunkering, due out soon.

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