PPR 5: Review of IMO guidelines for EGCS creates debate

PPR 5: Review of IMO guidelines for EGCS creates debate

The International Maritime Organization has agreed to update the 2015 Guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS Guidelines) to clarify a number of issues, and it is proving challenging to strike a balance amid fears the review could make the guidelines overly stringent and thereby discourage uptake of the technology.

Several papers regarding the review of the EGCS Guidelines were submitted to the 5th session of the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR 5) which met in London in the first week of February.

The terms of reference for the review includes “further refinement of the EGCS Guidelines” to clarify issues around monitoring of washwater, emission testing and approval of scrubbers. In addition, there is a call for the development of specific guidance on accidental breakdown, instrument malfunction and perceived temporary non-compliance, and development of consequential amendments to the 2009 Guidelines for port State control.

Discussions at PPR 5 saw two main themes.

Firstly, concerns were raised that some of the proposals put forward for updating the EGCS Guidelines would be hard to meet, in particular for ships that already have installed scrubbers, and it was important not to penalise early movers. Others, however, stressed that the guidelines must not in any way show more lenience towards ships with scrubbers compared with other compliance methods, for example in relation to temporary malfunctions.

Secondly, many noted the urgency of updating the EGCS Guidelines to reduce uncertainty for those considering installing them ahead of 2020. There was a clear link, they argued, between the IMO’s decision to implement the 0.50% sulphur limit in 2020 rather than in 2025, and the expectation that using scrubbers would be part of the solution. Several countries still have concerns about sufficient availability of low sulphur fuels for 2020, and without a portion of the global fleet being able to use high sulphur fuels with scrubbers, they have doubts about sufficient availability.

The two points above are of course linked. As one delegate said during PPR 5 discussions: “We should not make life difficult for industry – we need EGCS to have sufficient availability.”

Due to other pressing issues, work on this item was not progressed at PPR 5, but it established the Correspondence Group on Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems, which will commence work soon.

IBIA has offered to participate in Correspondence Group (CG) and invite IBIA members with relevant expertise to join an IBIA “response group” to develop IBIA’s contributions to this CG. Please e-mail unni@ibia.net if you want to take part in this effort.

EGCS unit installation on the cruise ship AIDA (Photo: Carnival)
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