In November 2020 at the 75th session of International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 75) adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI which introduced a method for fuel oil sampling from ships’ fuel oil tanks to verify the sulphur content.
BIMCO has noted that these new amendments will not enter into force until April 1st 2022.
The association said that , as a result of the introduced method, shipowners and the officers on board ships should be prepared to handle potential requests from port State Control (PSC) to sample from the ships’ bunker tanks, as well as from the fuel oil line between the service tank and auxiliary engine(s).
IMO has in addition released new guidelines for on board sampling of fuel oil intended to be used or carried for use on board a ship.
BIMCO said that in this context it continued to be "crucial that countries step-up and implement and enforce a bunker licensing scheme for fuel oil suppliers operating within their jurisdiction".
This would be to ensure both that fuel oil supplied to ships actually complies with the statutory sulphur limit but also to ensure that the fuel oil meets the high-level quality targets stipulated in regulation 18 of MARPOL Annex VI, for instance by ensuring that fuel oil meet the parameters of ISO standard ISO 8217:2017:
“… the fuel oil shall not include any added substance or chemical waste which jeopardizes the safety of ships or adversely affects the performance of the machinery or is harmful to personnel, or contributes overall to additional air pollution.”
BIMCO, ICS, INTERTANKO and World Shipping Council submitted a proposal to MEPC 75, encouraging all countries to implement and enforce mandatory licensing schemes for bunker suppliers operating within their jurisdiction.
That proposal was currently being debated in IMO. BIMCO said it hoped that it would be an annex to the existing IMO Guidance for best practice for Member State/coastal State (MEPC.1/Circ.884).