BIMCO's position has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.
MARPOL Annex VI on Prevention of Air Pollution from ships entered into force in 2006. It covers sulphur and particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, ozone depleting substances and the energy efficiency of ships.
MARPOL Annex VI reduced the limit for sulphur in marine fuel oil used on board ships operating in areas outside designated emission control areas to 0.50% from 1 January 2020.
According to the fuel testing company VPS, on average 3.1% of all Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO) commercial samples tested in 2020 indicated potential non-compliance. In December 2020, the rate of potential sulphur non-compliance was 5.1%.
VPS also reports that increased blending has reduced the stability of VLSFO to a point where the total sediment potential (TSP) in many cases will appear to be within specifications during bunkering, only to become off-spec a short time thereafter. Deteriorated cold-flow properties, lowered viscosity, increased amounts of catalytic fines (cat fines), and low flash point temperature were some of the most common operational challenges that ships had to face during 2020.
The fluctuating quality of VLSFO represents a safety risk, which will be a challenge for ships.
Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) publish regular Bunker Alerts based entirely on fuel samples and have kindly permitted BIMCO’s Members to access this information.
The Bunker Alerts are not intended to be an evaluation of overall bunker quality in the port or area concerned, but usually highlight a specific parameter within the fuel which has raised a quality issue.
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