As the 1st March deadline for the implementation of the non-compliant fuel carriage ban approaches, shipping law firm Hill Dickinson advises ship operators to start planning now to debunker any remaining high sulphur fuel in good time.
Owners have a little over a month in which to arrange to de-bunker high sulphur fuel and would be best advised to start planning those operations (if not already in hand) now, so as to avoid the consequences of missing the deadline,
…says Beth Bradley, Partner at Hill Dickinson.
Meanwhile, although the industry transition to IMO 2020 has been smooth, there are some issues arising over the margin for error in testing the sulphur content and the presence of sediment is causing concern in some areas, the law firm warns.
In the first weeks of 2020, there have been very few reports of enforcement action taken against vessels for non-compliance with the sulphur cap, which pushed IMO Secretary General to state that the transition to the implementation of the regulation has been smooth.
While this suggests a high level of compliance, it is only part of the picture, says Ms. Bradley.
These remarks come as issues relating to the sulphur content of fuel, as well as the quality of some blended low sulphur fuels, are already arising.
Over the past four weeks, there have been a number of alerts concerning sediment issues in low sulphur fuels supplied in Singapore, Piraeus, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Miami and San Vincente.
The propensity to sediment can cause engine problems, from sludging of filters to engine damage and blackouts in the worst circumstances.
As such, owners are advised to:
- ensure that they have clean bunker tanks
- avoid co-mingling of bunkers, and
- monitor sampling during the supply.
Looking ahead, enforcement action and quality issues will remain live topics as the shipping industry adjusts to the sulphur cap. The next pinch point will be 1 March 2020 when the carriage ban takes effect,
…Ms Bradley adds.