The Maritime Safety Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), at its 73rd meeting, held in October/2018, approved an amendment to MARPOL Annex VI which prohibits the presence on board of fuel oil whose sulfur content exceeds 0.50%, for the ship's own use, as of 03/01/2020.

The aim of this amendment is to ensure the effectiveness of Marpol's Annex, which establishes that, as of 01/01/2020, the fuel oil to be used by vessels will have a reduced sulfur content from 3.50% to 0.50%.

Ships provided with an approved Scrubber system on board shall be exempt from meeting the new standard. In this sense it is emphasized that the number of ships choosing such option is still very small.

At this same meeting, MEPC adopted a recommendation guide for shipowners and technical operators in planning to tailor ships to meet the requirements of MARPOL Annex VI.

The topics discussed in the document are: (i) modifications to the fuel oil system; (ii) cleaning of supply tanks; (iii) acquisition of low sulfur fuel oil; (iv) fuel oil storage capacity and segregation; (v) replacement plan for the transition of existing on-board fuel with a sulfur content of 3.50% for low oil content; (vi) documentation.

Finally, MEPC also approved a recommendation guide for fuel oil suppliers regarding guidelines to be given to fuel oil purchasers and users to meet the requirements of Marpol Annex VI and the safe and efficient operation of the ship.

In the next section of MEPC, to be held in 2019, the implementation of measures to promote the availability of fuel oil with the required specification and its disclosure will be discussed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.