ICS: Sulfur cap a game changer, but bigger changes to come

Written by Nick Blenkey
Esben Poulsson

Esben Poulsson

“The 2020 global sulfur cap will be the regulatory game changer of the decade with profound implications for the economics of shipping,” says Esben Poulsson Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS),. “But there are even more profound changes to come. We are rapidly moving into a multi-fuel future to be followed we hope, in the 2030s, by the arrival of commercially viable zero CO2 fuels suitable for global application.”

Poulsson was speaking after an ICS Board meeting last week at which board members reviewed progress on trying to persuade IMO to take measures to address expected sulfur cap implementation problems.

According to ICS, these include outstanding safety and fuel compatibility issues associated with the use of new 0.5% sulfur blends and continuing uncertainty over the availability of compliant fuels in every port worldwide, a particular challenge for tramp trades. The ICS Board concluded that it will be vital for the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee to complete this work at its meeting in May 2019, as shipowners begin ordering compliant fuels.

“While fuel suppliers must play their part in providing sufficient quantities of safe and compliant low sulfur fuels, shipowners must urgently prepare their ship specific implementation plans for 2020,” said Poulsson. “This should be carried out using the IMO template adopted at the industry’s request and the detailed advice prepared by ICS which we have just updated to take account of other recent IMO decisions. This will be vital to reduce the possibility of teething problems or in the event of initial Port State Control difficulties due to factors beyond the shipowner’s control.”

The ICS Board meeting also finalized proposals to IMO on short term measures to address IMO greenhouse gas reduction targets that call for a 40% efficiency improvement by 2030 and a 50% total cut in the sector’s GHG emissions by 2050. The ICS short term proposalsnclude tightening of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships – which already requires ships built in 2025 to be 30% more efficient than those delivered before 2013 – as well as proposals for a “Super SEEMP” that would make existing Ship Energy Efficiency Management Planssubject to mandatory external audits, probably as part of the ISM Code.

“The ICS Board agreed that the industry cannot achieve the 2050 GHG reduction target using fossil fuels,” said Poulsson. “Over the next decade we are therefore going to require massive investment in research and development of zero CO2 emitting propulsion systems and other technologies which don’t yet exist in a form that can be readily applied to international shipping, especially in deep sea trades. This will need to be a key component of the IMO strategy when detailed ideas for long term measures are taken forward during 2020.”

The ICS Board also endorsed the recommendation of the ICS Manning and Training Sub-Committee that ICS should encourage IMO to embark on a comprehensive review of the IMO STCW Convention governing seafarers’ and training and certification standards, given increasing questions as to whether the STCW regime, which was last given a major overhaul in 1995, is still fit for purpose in the 21st Century.

Download the updated ICS Guidance on Compliance with the 2020 Global Sulfur Cap HERE

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