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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

EU Sulphur Directive re 0.1% sulphur fuel in port – official transitional period for enforcement

The European Commission (EC) has adopted a Recommendation on the safe implementation of the use of low sulphur fuel by ships at berth in ports of the European Community, having recognised that “there may be operational problems and safety risks associated with the use of the required fuels in ships that have not undergone technical adaptations,”.


From 1 January 2010, ships at berth in European Community ports are required to use marine fuels with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.1% by mass (Article 4b of Directive 1999/32/EC as amended by Directive 2005/33/EC). This has not changed. However, in consideration of their recent safety concerns, the Commission adopted 21 December 2009 a Recommendation aimed at Member States, which invites them, while enforcing the Directive, to consider the existence of detailed evidence of the steps taken by ships to ensure safe compliance with the Directive. Member States may consider the existence of an approved retrofit plan when assessing the degree of penalties to be applied to non-complying ships.


The Recommendation indicates that, as part of the EU Member States’ enforcement actions against ships which fail to comply with the EU’s 0.1% sulphur fuel at berth requirement, they should request those ships to provide detailed evidence of the steps they are taking to achieve compliance. The Recommendation indicates that these retrofits should be completed within 8 months after the enforcement date.


The text of the European Commission Recommendation (to view click here) on the safe implementation of the use of low sulphur fuel by ships at berth, adopted on 21 December, was published in the Official Journal on 29 December.


For a summary and for INTERTANKO’S initial comments click here


For an unofficial list of the situation regarding transposition into law of the 0.1% sulphur requirement in EU/EEA States click here 


INTERTANKO intervention

INTERTANKO warmly welcomes this move, coming after five years of continuous pressure from INTERTANKO, OCIMF and others in the shipping industry to highlight the potential operational and safety problems of such a move.

If so requested by a Member during the transitional months, INTERTANKO is prepared to intervene directly with any government and/or any charterer creating a problem with any Member who has in place a programme and timeframe for compliance including a record of communication with boiler/machinery makers showing a plan for follow-up action. 


Hazard identification

As part of the detailed evidence required to ensure compliance with the EU Directive, we believe that tanker owners will be expected to provide a HAZID assessment document.  INTERTANKO and OCIMF have jointly published a Guidance booklet which provides a simple check list of items which should be part of a Risk Assessment and a Hazard Identification (HAZID) assessment for boiler systems in oil tankers covering the switching to, and long term-operation on, low sulphur marine gas oil (LSMGO).

It is strongly recommended that such a HAZID assessment be conducted in cooperation with the equipment/installation manufacturer or experienced entity and the classification society of each system type.

Click to view the Guidance for Hazard Identification


Charterparty Issues

Legislation regarding the reduction of sulphur in fuel is of course not new. Members are reminded of the INTERTANKO Model Clause on Bunker Emissions for Time Charters, developed when the low sulphur fuel requirements of MARPOL Annex VI came into force. When our Documentary Committee produced this clause, it also had the 2005 EU Sulphur Directive in its sights. 

This clause confirms that owners will meet the emission limits in MARPOL Annex VI and any similar laws or regulations, which would include the EU Sulphur Directive. Members may wish to amend the clause to mention this specifically.

The scheme of the clause means that the charterers have an obligation to provide the vessel with the fuel required to enable the vessel to comply with emission controls in the ECA. Failure to do so will be a breach by the charterers, who would then be liable to indemnify the owners for any resulting losses. Provided the charterers have supplied the requisite fuel, the responsibility to comply with the emissions control requirements rests with the owners. Overall it is the owners’ responsibility to ensure that the vessel is fit to trade and can do so safely within the trading limits laid down in the charterparty.

To view INTERTANKO’s Bunker Emission Clause for time charters click here

Our Documentary Committee is considering whether any amendment to this clause is required to reflect the particular practical issues involved with compliance with the EU Sulphur Directive. In the meantime we are happy to assist with the charterparty as well as the technical issues it raises.