MEPC reaffirms that early movers of ballast water systems are not penalised


MEPC 71 progressed in ensuring smoother implementation of the ballast water convention. One of the achievements was reaffirming the agreement regarding the provisions for non-penalisation of early movers that have installed ballast water management systems according to G8 guidelines.

Amendments to mandatory instruments

At this session, MEPC adopted the following amendments to MARPOL:

  • MARPOL Annex VI, Regulation 13 is now amended with a designation of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea Emission Control Areas for NOx Tier III control
  • MARPOL Annex VI, amendments to the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) to allow delivery of non-compliant fuel to a ship, which has exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubber) onboard.

The amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2019, although the NOX tier III amendments will come into effect on ships, which are constructed on or after 1 January 2021 and are operating in the two areas.

Ballast water management (BWM)

The implementation phase for the BWM Convention has now been agreed and will be circulated to IMO member states for final adoption at MEPC 72 in April 2018. The new parts that are important to note are: (more details will be circulated subsequently in separate BIMCO news): 

A ship constructed on or after 8 September 2017 shall conduct Ballast Water Management that at least meets the standard described in regulation D-2, which in most case would require the installation of a type approved Ballast Water Management System.

Ships constructed before 8 September 2017 must comply with the D-2 standard at the first MARPOL International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) certificate renewal survey completed on or after 8 September 2019.  

For ships constructed before 8 September 2017 where the IOPP renewal survey is completed on or after 8 September 2014 but prior to 8 September 2017 then D-2 compliance will be required at the first IOPP renewal survey. 

For ship where the IOPP renewal survey not is completed between 8 September 2014 and 8 September 2017, then D-2 standard compliance will be required at the second IOPP renewal survey conducted after 8 September 2017. This only applies in cases where the first MARPOL IOPP renewal survey is completed after 8 September 2017 and prior to 8 September 2019 and an IOPP renewal survey was not completed between 8 September 2014 and 8 September 2017.

Ships constructed prior to 8 September 2017 and not subject to a MARPOL IOPP renewal survey, will have to be D-2 standard compliant required not later than 8 September 2024.

MEPC 71 further agreed to several BWM related issues including:

  • the publication “Ballast Water Management – How to do it”
  • 2017 Guidance on Contingency Measures under the BWM Convention
  • draft Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems 
  • update of the reporting form in the Guidelines for ballast water exchange (G6)  
  • amendments to the Guidance on entry or re-entry of ships into exclusive operation within water under the jurisdiction of a single party.  

Furthermore, it was agreed to issue a MEPC circular entitled application of the BWM convention to ships operating in sea areas where ballast water exchange in accordance with regulation b-4.1 and D-1 is not possible. The circular is emphasising that ships are not required to be D-2 compliant if trading in areas where D-1 ballast water exchange cannot be carried out within the 200 nautical miles from shore and at 200 meters depth as specified under regulation B-4.1. 

Alternative approval of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI)

MEPC 71 noted a proposal by Denmark to develop guidelines on how to use the equivalent method in regulation 4 of MARPOL Annex VI to comply with the EEDI requirements.

The aim of the draft guidelines is to show how to use regulation 4 for an equivalent approval of the energy efficiency requirement. Today, an administration can approve a ship's energy efficiency in accordance with the equivalent method based on the ship's total energy efficiency. This shall be done by documenting that the actual, modern, new-built ship is at least as effective in terms of emission reductions – energy efficient – as a ship fulfilling the EEDI requirement. This could, for example, be done by showing that an actual phase 2 ship has a 20% less CO2 emission than a similar ship fulfilling the phase 0 standard.

Denmark together with a number of interested parties will now embark on procedures and guidelines relevant for both flag states and classification societies, as well as the shipyards and owners with the aim of submitting a framework at the next MEPC meeting in 2018. 

Best practice for fuel oil purchaser/user for assuring the quality of fuel oil used onboard ships

MARPOL Annex VI contains requirements that apply to fuel oil used on board ships. Regulation 14 sets limits on the sulphur content of fuel oil used onboard ships, both within designated SOx Emission Control Areas (regulation 14.4) and globally (regulation 14.1). Regulation 18.3, however, contains other requirements for fuel oil delivered to and used on board ships.

To avoid different interpretations, MEPC has been tasked to develop best practices so as to assist fuel oil purchasers/users in assuring the quality of fuel oil delivered to and used onboard ships. This is with respect to both compliance with the MARPOL requirements and the safe and efficient operation of the ship.

The draft best practices for fuel oil purchasers/users recognize that the choice of fuel oil provider may have a significant impact on the quality of fuel oil purchased and that purchasers should be encouraged to check the reputation of the fuel oil provider before entering into a contract. 

Many aspects of the draft best practices are designed to help a purchaser identify a "quality-oriented" fuel oil provider by helping the fuel oil purchasers/users identify the relevant information needed to make an informed fuel oil purchasing decision that meets the needs of the ship and that will comply with the requirements of MARPOL Annex VI.

Also, best practices for member state/coastal state are under development.

Due to time constraints, MEPC 71 did not manage to finalize the best practices for the various groups. This work is, however, expected to be concluded at the next meeting in Spring 2018.

EEDI review beyond phase 2

The MARPOL Annex VI regulation 21.6, contains requirements to conduct a general review of the framework for phase 2 (2020-2025) and a second review for phase 3 (2025-2030). The first review is currently on-going and may result in amendments to the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) guidelines, if proven necessary. 

At the meeting, many delegations expressed their support to move the start of phase 3 already to 2022 as the phase 2 review for some ship types have shown an over-compliance of phase 2 requirements. Furthermore, member states have shown interest in starting the development of a possible new phase 4. 

BIMCO argued against such changes because there remain many outstanding issues that still have to be solved, eg increased necessary energy in light of new requirements for ballast water management and exhaust cleaning system to meet the requirement of sulphur content in fuel oil. 

The working group, however, reached consensus to immediately start a thorough review of phase 3 and once completed to decide on a possible earlier start of phase 3.

The work is expected to be concluded late 2018 in order to provide sufficient time between the time of decision on a possible early implementation date of phase 3 and the actual implementation date so as to allow industries to prepare for the implementation.

IMO data collection system

MEPC 71 continued its work on the data collection system for fuel consumption of ships. One of the obstacles was to decide on the level of verification of data submitted to the system. 

Hence, MEPC finalized a number of guidelines in support of the scheme, eg guidelines for the management of the database, and a circular inviting non-Party to MARPOL Annex VI to submit data to the IMO database as well.

Ships above 5,000 GT will be required to collect consumption data for each type of fuel they use, as well as additional data, which will proxy the transported work. The aggregated data will be reported to the flag state after the end of each calendar year.  The flag state, having determined that the data has been reported in accordance with the requirements, will issue a Statement of Compliance to the ship. Flag states will then transfer the data to the new IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database.

The mandatory data collection requirements will enter into force on 1 March 2018, although Parties to MARPOL Annex VI are invited to implement the regulation as soon as possible in order to collect data for the new database.

The IMO data collection system is on schedule and the first report based on the data is expected to be issued in beginning of 2019.

Green House Gas (GHG) strategy

MEPC 71 embarked on the development of a Green House Gas (GHG) strategy with the aim of obtaining approval in 2018.  The committee worked on the outcome from the first GHG Intersessional working group, which took place in the week before MEPC 71. 

An outline was established of the structure of an initial strategy containing 7 headlines covering items such as vision, levels of ambition and guiding principles. It also includes a list of possible short-, mid- and long-term measures to limit the emission of CO2. Capacity building, technical cooperation, research and development were also outlined, together with the follow-up actions necessary to develop the revised strategy.

BIMCO, together with other industry associations, proposed the establishment of an International Maritime Research Board to define and oversee a research and development (R&D) programme on marine propulsions and power generation systems, fuels and ship design. The BIMCO submissions were well received and were taken on board. 

The development of IMO Strategy on the reductions of GHG emissions from ships had a good and positive start and there is a good chance of achieving the goal for a decision on the strategy at MEPC 72 in April 2018.


Jeppe Skovbakke Juhl
in Copenhagen, DK


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