The latest amendments to MARPOL by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) were acknowledged to bring tremendous advancement with relation to sea voyage and pollution issues. Although India has not yet accepted the MARPOL guidelines, the Director General (DG) has single-handedly gone forward to implement many of its regulations by issuing mandatory guidelines for bunker suppliers.
Currently, bunkering services in India are a strict no-no, not only for many Indian vessels, but also foreign going ships, owing to the exorbitant pricing and unreliable quality of fuel. Presently, bunker price in India is approximately 50% more than in Singapore. Cases of break-down of an entire shipping operation have been reported, where contaminated fuel was detected to be the sole cause. These guidelines are expected to remove apprehension over the operational safety of ships using bunker supplied in India.
Some of the DG’s bunker regulation measures are listed below: -
In consonance with Annex VI of MARPOL 73/78, mandatory registration of persons supplying bunker to ships, drilling rigs and platforms is a must by 31st August 2005.
Only registered bunkers supplier are permitted to supply to foreign going ships. Any ship detected to accept bunker supply from unregistered supplier is liable to be detained by flag state/port state control authority;
Bunkers should incorporate good transport systems, which must reflect in the quality of bunker supplied – a measure to ensure quality preservation in transit.
Approval given to six fuel oil testing laboratories. Any other laboratory can also enjoy recognition in testing in fuels with prior approval.
Bunker suppliers should have "quality management systems" for bunker supply chain, which is again in line with ISO norms;
Quite evidently, the DG’s aim is to bring radical improvement in bunker quality with all-round modifications in bunker management.
As most bunker suppliers were unable to meet with the ISO quality norms interim registration was granted to deserving applicants, while the expiry period lasted till 18th November, 2005.
Currently, bunker market in India is a meager 0.5 million tonnes against Singapore’s 18 million tonnes, Rotterdam’s 15 million tonnes and Fujairah’s 10 million tonnes. The new quality and safety norms -with compulsory registration and ISO norms for suppliers, fuel testing facility, and standard maintenance during transit period- are expected to raise bunkering service quality tremendously and widen the scope of bunker business in India to a great extent.
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Nishith Desai Associates is a research-based Indian law firm with offices in Mumbai, Silicon Valley, Bangalore, Singapore, Mumbai BKC, Delhi and Munich that aims at providing strategic, legal and tax...
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