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IMO to further consider bunker licensing scheme as 2020 sulfur limit rule looms: IBIA

Singapore — Aspects relating to a proposal to the International Maritime Organization for a licensing scheme for bunker suppliers will likely be discussed further next year as pressure mounts from shipping organizations for more regulation on the supply side, the International Bunker Industry Association said Tuesday.

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This will likely be considered either at the seventh session of the IMO's Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response in February 2020, or the 75th session of IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee, which has been scheduled to run at the end of March/start of April next year, IBIA said on its website.

The proposal in MEPC 74/5/4, submitted by ICS, BIMCO, INTERTANKO, INTERCARGO, IPTA and WSC, said addressing fuel safety-related matters by making bunker supplier licensing mandatory under MARPOL Annex VI was supported by the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee.

While the MEPC 74, held earlier this month, rejected the proposal for a mandatory bunker licensing scheme under MARPOL Annex VI, it agreed to consider a template for voluntary application, IBIA said.

The view of the co-sponsors of MEPC 74/5/4 was that the safety risks associated with poor quality fuel oil could be mitigated if member states implemented fuel oil supplier licensing schemes, IBIA director Unni Einemo said. This received significant support as some thought it would be critical to the safe implementation of the 0.50% sulfur limit rule in 2020, Einemo added.

The majority view, however, was that a licensing scheme would create additional administrative burdens without significant or sufficient benefit and hence should not be made mandatory, she said.

Still, there was some support for developing guidance on how to set up such schemes on a voluntary basis, she added.

"An annex to MEPC 74/5/4 containing a draft template of a bunker license, that could be used by member states and ports under their jurisdiction, was forwarded to the Air Pollution Working Group to see if it might be added as an appendix to the 'Guidance on best practice for Member States/coastal States' which the working group was instructed to finalize during MEPC 74," she said.

However, the group did not have time to consider the proposed example of a supplier license and suggested instead that it should be kept for consideration at a future meeting as early as possible, she said, adding that this was likely to take place at PPR 7 or MEPC 75.

"IBIA would like [to] hear views from our members on the draft licensing scheme proposed by the shipping organizations in MEPC 74/5/4," she added.

-- Surabhi Sahu, surabhi.sahu@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Shashwat Pradhan, newsdesk@spglobal.com