Shipping Gets Ready As IMO 2020 Looms
From January 1st, 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will enforce a new 0.5% global sulphur cap on fuel oil. They have also announced a 50% reduction in green-house gas emissions from ships by 2050. This new cap is in response to growing environmental concerns, specifically involving the emissions generated by the shipping industry.
The new cap was originally announced in October 2016 at a session of the IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC).
Regions that have existing Emission Control Areas (ECA) include the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, North American, and the US Caribbean.
New regulation will most likely change the maritime industry while simultaneously posing a significant challenge to ship owners. However, it seems that concerns over fuel shortage with respect to Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (LSFO) are largely unfounded.
“All major bunkering ports report that they are able to match demand (for LFSO)," said Tim Huxley, Chairman of Mandarin Shippingsaid. "It is a potential shortage of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) which is raising concerns."
Huxley also assures that these shortages will occur in some of the small bunkering ports around the globe. There should not be any significant problems at major ports.
Another major issue is a concern that ship engines and machinery will be adversely affected by the lower viscosity of the lighter fuel oil. This could mean serious leaks occurring in the engine room.
The industry has moved to deal with this potential issue by working with lubricant oil suppliers to manage the switch.
“There will need to be close scrutiny of the effect on items such as piston rings etc., from the switch to low sulphur fuel and it is almost inevitable that there will be some technical issues somewhere – as an owner you just hope you have done the right preparation and got the right suppliers,” he said.
However, with a caveat, Huxley said that when any major switch is made there are bound to be some uncertainties, whether that is with recently installed ‘scrubber’ technology which removes sulphur dioxide from exhaust fumes or a switch to new fuels.