Fuel concerns under discussion at MSC 100

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

11 December 2018

Issues surrounding both safety and fuel quality were discussed at last week’s MSC 100 with a new working group planned for MSC 101 to consider particular safety concerns related to 2020 compliant fuels.

With bad bunkers being a hot topic in the industry at present, a proposal to require bunker suppliers to be licensed by member states was considered. However, the committee decided that this was a matter best left to MEPC and forwarded the proposal to that committee for further action.

However, following on from discussions at MSC 99 on safety concerns over 2020 compliant fuels, the meeting agreed that MSC should be more robust in pursuing safety issues related to fuel use and it will undertake a review of existing safety provisions for fuel oil and information concerning the safety implications associated with the use of fuel oil. Concrete proposals were requested to be submitted to MSC 101, in June 2019, with the view to completing this work in 2021.

The Committee decided that a Working Group would be convened at MSC 101, in June 2019, to review potential safety implications identified during the Intersessional Meeting held in July this year. Among the issues identified earlier were many that the industry has been discussing for some time and include questions over compatibility, cold flow properties, acidity, ignition and combustion characteristics and more. The use of some distillates with a flash point below that permitted under SOLAS was a particular concern.

Deferring the work on safety until 2021 will be seen by many within the industry as a failure to address legitimate concerns over the use of 2020 compliant fuels.

Separate to discussions over fuel oil safety, MSC 100 also approved revisions to the IGF Code which are expected to be adopted at MSC 101. The revisions apply to new vessels ordered in 2021 and beyond and relate to tank location, fuel pipe design and explosion relief systems on exhausts of internal combustion engines.