In a submission to an IMO intersessional meeting in London this week, BIMCO, along with Panama, the ICS, INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO and WSC, state that: ‘robust sulphur content testing and verification procedures should be put in place, yielding consistent results without areas of ambiguity and complexity.’
MEPC 72 authorised this week’s Intersessional Meeting on Consistent implementation of regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI. In their submission, the co-sponsors note that: ‘Easy-to-understand, easy-to-implement and uniform verification procedures for both MARPOL samples (representative samples at the time of bunkering) and in-use fuel oil samples will achieve clarity and uniformity across the globe when the 0.50% m/m fuel oil sulphur limit enters into force on 1 January 2020.
‘The document highlights that the amended procedures provide enforcement authorities with verification methods widely accepted in science and engineering disciplines without having to refer to industry standards.’
Among a number of issues raised in the submission, the co-sponsors note that: ‘Fuel oil sampling, testing and verification are three different activities with their own distinctive features.
The co-sponsors say that they consider that the ISO 8754 test method alone or equivalent is sufficient when testing various fuel oil samples and verifying their compliance with MARPOL Annex VI sulphur limits.
However, the submission highlights: ‘The complexity of the subject lies in the fact that at present, ISO test methods are referenced in MARPOL Annex VI in various forms of language, making it difficult for ship operators and PSC authorities to understand the overall picture.
‘For example, ISO 4259, which is referenced by ISO 8754 which is then included in a footnote to appendix V (Bunker Delivery Note), takes an approach that in any two or more test measurements of the same property of the same sample by any test method would not usually give exactly the same result. This approach is reflected in the current appendix VI of MARPOL Annex VI in a different form of language.’
As such, the submission includes a proposal to unify verification procedures for MARPOL samples and in-use fuel oil samples.
It states that: ‘Document MEPC 71/5/9 (China) points out that no harmonised test method and verification procedures for sulphur content have been developed for in-use fuel oil samples, and suggests that appendix VI of MARPOL Annex VI should also be applied to verification of in-use fuel oil samples. Document PPR 5/13/11, whilst recognising that the proposal was logical in closing the gap in MARPOL Annex VI, raises concerns that it does not mirror the complexities in the verification methods specifying criteria of non-compliance. This situation arises because the verification procedures set forth in appendix VI of MARPOL Annex VI was not widely applied in practice. Document PPR 5/13/12 confirms the same finding.’
It continues: ‘A simple uniform application of the current appendix VI of MARPOL Annex VI to both MARPOL samples and in-use fuel oil samples, without addressing the wide acceptability of the verification procedures, would not mitigate inconsistent interpretations.
This has led the co-sponsors to conclude that:
• appendix VI of MARPOL Annex VI should be amended in such a way that it is easily understood and widely applied without quoting industry standards; and
• the so amended Appendix VI is made uniformly applicable to both MARPOL samples and in-use fuel oil samples.