MARPOL Annex VI enters into force this week

We would like to remind all members that on 19 May 2005 MARPOL Annex VI (Regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships) entered into force and with it, certain obligations for ship operators, particularly their obligation to ensure that they receive evidence that the bunkers supplied to their ships are compliant. The relevant regulations referred to are Regulations 14 and 18.  

Regulation 14 requires that fuel oils delivered to ships should have a sulphur content below 4.5%. It also gives a list of requirements to be met by vessels within the Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs). The currently identified SECAs are the Baltic Sea (in force from 19 May 2006) and the North Sea (will become a SECA some time in October 2007). Therefore, we will revert at a later date with details on the conditions a ship should fulfil when about to enter a SECA. 

For the time being, the most important provision to be observed with regard to bunkering is that the supplier will need to document that the quality of the fuel oil delivered to a vessel is in compliance with Regulation 18 of the Annex VI as follows: 

1)     The fuel oil delivered onboard is a blend of hydrocarbons. It should not contain inorganic acid or any added substance that could jeopardise the safety of the ship or adversely affect the performance of its machinery, be harmful to personnel or contribute to additional air pollution. 

2)     The Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) must be retained onboard for a period of at least three years and be made available for inspection (Port State Control). Photocopies of the BDN can be made, and the Master of the vessel is required to certify that the photocopies are “true” copies of the original. 

3)     The BDN will be accompanied by a representative sample of the fuel oil delivered in accordance with the guidelines to be developed by the IMO. The sample has to be sealed and signed by both the supplier representative and the Master and retained onboard whilst the fuel oil is being consumed or for a period of not less than 12 months. The regulation needs some clarification as to what happens in the event of a bunker quality dispute and as to the requirement of samples for independent analysis. INTERTANKO is preparing a submission to IMO/MEPC with suggestions for such clarifications. 

4)     Countries that are signatories to MARPOL undertake to maintain a register of local bunker suppliers, require the bunker supplier to provide the necessary BDN and sample as required by the regulations, and require the bunker supplier to retain a copy of the BDN for a period of at least 3 years. They also undertake to take action against bunker suppliers that deliver fuel oil that does not comply with the delivery note; to inform the Flag State of any ship receiving fuel not in compliance with Regulation 14 or 18 of Annex VI; to inform the IMO, for onward transmission to Flag States, of all cases where a fuel supplier has failed to meet the requirements of Regulations 14 and 18 of Annex VI.


5)     Finally, with respect to Regulation 18, if during an inspection by Port State Control it is found that a vessel has a “non-compliant” fuel oil onboard, then all information regarding the event is to be reported to the relevant Flag State and remedial action must be taken so that the “non-compliant” fuel becomes compliant, i.e. the vessel must be re-bunkered. 

We remind members of the INTERTANKO Guide to Bunkering of Ships for the purposes of Annex VI to MARPOL, which highlights specific aspects of the Regulations where potential operational amendments may be needed and supplies recommended practices to satisfy the objectives of the Regulations as they apply to the bunkering of ships.

Contact: Dragos Rauta