The document submitted to the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) 73 does not seek a delay to the implementation date of the 2020 sulphur cap, countries and organizations that cosponsored the paper said in a clarification.

Responding to the recent media frenzy, the parties issued a statement clarifying the standpoints in the document, which they claim had been misinterpreted by the public.

To remind, on August 31, 2018 the Bahamas, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Panama, BIMCO, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO, cosponsored and submitted a document to the meeting scheduled to take place on 22-26 October 2018.

Titled Safety Implications and respective challenges associated with 2020 compliant fuels, the paper aims to assist the MEPC 73 in its consideration of potential safety implications associated with the transition, the parties said.

The paper contains a proposal to establish an experience-building phase (EBP), intended as an institutionalized data gathering measure. As indicated, the purpose of the measure would be to provide “greater transparency and detailed information on the compliance situation after January 1, 2020.”

The cosponsors did not propose a fixed time-frame for the EBP so that it has sufficient flexibility to conclude when the fuel oil availability situation stabilizes on a global basis.

The parties insists that they are are fully committed to a successful transition to the 0.50% fuel oil sulphur standard on January 1, 2020.

“The paper absolutely does not attempt to change the standard, nor does it seek to delay the effective date,” the cosponsors said.

“There is no suggestion in the paper to delay or weaken the general enforcement provisions of MARPOL Annex VI in a wholesale manner. “

“The paper seeks to facilitate a pragmatic approach by administrations specifically in those instances where a ship is not able to achieve compliance due to fuel non-availability and fuel quality problems.  This is relevant regardless of the means by which a shipowner chooses to comply with the standard and does not suggest a wholesale relaxation of enforcement regimes in all scenarios,” the clarification further reads.

The parties explained that “undue penalization” term in the paper refers to unfair control measures applied to a ship which is found non-compliant due to factors beyond its control, despite all best efforts and preparation.

This is due to the expected challenges with the transition to the 0.50% global fuel oil sulphur limit and potential safety risks resulting from new blends or new fuel types.

“Attention is called upon relevant authorities to ensure fuel oil suppliers uphold their share of obligations under MARPOL Annex VI to supply safe and compliant fuel oil, and  take appropriate remedial action against suppliers that have been found to deliver non-compliant fuel oil,” parties urged.

“The responsibility for compliance cannot fall entirely upon the shipowner in this regard.”

In addition, the paper does not propose any delay to the adoption of the MARPOL Annex VI amendments prohibiting carriage of non-compliant fuel oil.

Finally, the parties said that the claim that the EBP will lead to a revision of MARPOL Annex VI, which will create uncertainty and delay implementation, was unfounded.

“A possible review of the regulatory framework of MARPOL Annex VI is suggested in order to provide a goal or end-point to the EBP process. Functionally, such a review cannot delay implementation of the 0.50% global fuel oil sulphur content standard after it has already come into effect. 

“It is not possible to ascertain whether any improvements to the regulatory framework are necessary, without knowing the actual implementation situation after January 1, 2020.  Possible revisions might be necessary to ensure more effective implementation of the standard. Otherwise, if the results of the EBP suggest there is no compelling need to improve the regulatory framework, then no revisions will be considered,” the clarification concludes.

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