Sampling points for fuel oil in use on ships becoming mandatory

It will become mandatory under MARPOL Annex VI for ships to have sampling point(s) to be fitted or designated for the purpose of taking representative samples of the fuel oil being used on board the ship.

This was approved as an amendment to the regulation at the 74th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 74).

It means all existing ships of 400 gross tonnage and above engaged in international shipping must have such sampling points fitted or designated no later than the first renewal survey that occurs 12 months or more after the entry into force of the new regulatory requirement. Ships constructed after the entry into force of the must have such sampling points from the outset.

The purpose of the regulatory amendment is to make sure competent authorities have access to designated sampling point(s) to obtain representative sample(s) of the fuel oil being used on board in order to verify that it meets the relevant sulphur limit (0.10% in emission control areas, 0.50% outside ECAs).

The requirement is not applicable to low-flashpoint fuel systems.

Assuming the amendments are formally adopted at MEPC 75 in early April next year, they will enter into force in the second half of 2021. The IMO has, however, invited Member Governments to apply the approved amendments to appendix VI of MARPOL Annex VI related to sulphur verification procedures in advance of their entry into force.

MEPC 74 also approved revisions to guidelines for obtaining representative in-use samples for sulphur verification (MEPC.1/Circ.864/Rev.1), which are to be taken into account when fitting or designating such in-use sampling point(s) on ships.

Report by Unni Einemo

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