A coalition of maritime industry bodies has produced comprehensive Joint Industry Guidance on the supply and use of low sulphur fuel.
From 1 January 2020, new regulations issued by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will apply to shipping fuel, restricting the maximum sulphur content of fuel to 0.5%: a substantial reduction from the current limit of 3.5%. The Joint Industry Guidance is designed to provide advice on making the transition to low-emissions fuel for actors and stakeholders at all stages of the shipping supply chain, from fuel producers to end users; and will be supplemented with an e-learning course, scheduled for release in October 2019.
The Joint Industry Guidance details issues of fuel quality and safety controls; vessel compatibility and fuel transition; and best practice for the handling and storage of low sulphur fuels. It highlights the importance of proactive fuel management through ensuring the stability of blended fuels, encouraging the free flow of information between suppliers, purchasers and end users to offset compatibility concerns; and reviewing operational practices to allow time to test fuel compatibility where necessary.
The Joint Industry Guidance cautions: ‘The application of supply quality assurance and good practice in onboard management and fuel care is needed to mitigate operational risks associated with the use of bunker fuels, provided it meets the statutory safety and quality requirements. This can best be achieved by first carrying out an independent analysis of a representative sample of the fuel as delivered, to obtain an understanding of that fuel’s characteristics. The machinery plant settings may then be adjusted accordingly, so that they are optimised for storage, treatment and combustion. It is anticipated that there will be a wide variability in the formulation of max. 0.5%-sulphur fuels from light distillates through to heavier residual blends. In addition, high sulphur fuel oil will also be available for ships fitted with equivalent compliance equipment.’