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Shipping Groups Propose Phased Start to 2020 Global Sulphur Cap

With 2020 global sulphur cap just round the corner, almost at the doorsteps of the shipping industry, three trade groups and four countries where thousands of ships are registered have made a joint proposal to the International Maritime Organization on Aug. 31 for what they called an gexperience building phase,h according to a copy of the document obtained by Bloomberg. The suggestion, if adopted, would avoid individual ships being gunduly penalizedh if they canft get the right fuel.

Though IMO rules are designed to make the industry less polluting, the crucial question raises a doubt as to whether enough of the correct types of fuel will be available. A hard start to the rules could lead to safety issues as ships rush to ensure they have compliant fuel on board, according to the submission.

A Singapore-based oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd Nevyn Nah reads the esafety issuesf concern of the groups differently and says it is gyet another attempt to delay IMO 2020.h He adds, gIf it is delayed, the IMO will lose credibility and it will be unfair to the refiners and shipowners who have already taken actions to prepare for IMO 2020.h

Lars Robert Pedersen, deputy secretary general in charge of environmental matters at the Baltic and International Maritime Council looks upon the document not as an attempt to delay implementation of the rules but the main goal is to get clear guidance.

The trade group, better known as Bimco, was among those behind the proposal.

An IMO spokeswoman said it will be for the organizationfs member states to discuss the proposal. Therefs already a provision for ships to provide evidence of why they couldnft obtain compliant fuel, at which point it would be for a port state to evaluate if they could be excused, she said.

The document didnft say how long the experience building phase might last. It was submitted by Bimco, Intertanko and Intercargo, as well as the Bahamas, Liberia, Marshall Islands and Panama. It will be discussed at an Oct. 22-26 meeting of the IMO.

gThe goal is to gain experience in the use of these new fuels and to ensure that unsafe fuels do not enter the market in response to availability pressures,h the proposal said.

In theory, the IMOfs protocols mean an amendment to its rules takes 22 months to be fully implemented. The new rules are due to start in 16 monthsf time. Individual shipping companies and the refining industry have invested billions of dollars to get ready for the upgrade.


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