IMO previews MEPC 73

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche
ShipInsight

11 October 2018


Greenhouse gases and the 2020 sulphur cap will be the main talking points at MEPC 73 to be heald from 22 to 26 October the IMO has said.

The MEPC is expected to develop and agree a programme of actions to implement the initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships, which was adopted in April 2018. An Intersessional Working Group, meeting the week preceding MEPC 73 (15-19 October), is expected to initiate this work and will report to the Committee.

Under the identified “levels of ambition”, the initial GHG strategy envisages a reduction in total GHG emissions from international shipping which, it says, should peak as soon as possible. Total annual GHG emissions from international shipping should be reduced by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, while, at the same time, efforts should be pursued towards phasing them out entirely.

The Initial Strategy refers to a range of candidate short-, mid- and long-term measures that will be considered by IMO. Short-term measures could be finalised and agreed between 2018 and 2023; mid-term measures, between 2023 and 2030; and long-term measures, beyond 2030.

Feeding in to the process towards adoption of a revised Strategy in 2023 will be the data collection system on fuel oil consumption of ships over 5,000 gross tons, which begins on 1 January 2019; and a fourth IMO GHG study, to be initiated in the first half of 2019.

The MEPC will receive a report on progress by the correspondence group on review of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) “beyond phase 2”. The correspondence group has submitted an interim report to MEPC 73 with a final report due to be submitted to MEPC 74 (Spring 2019), providing a recommendation on the time period and reduction rates for EEDI “phase 3” requirements. This could lead to a tightening of requirements for certain new ships.

The new lower 0.50% limit on sulphur in ships’ fuel oil will be in force from 1 January 2020. IMO has been working with Member States and the industry to support implementation of the new limit. MEPC 73 is expected to approve ship implementation planning guidance as well as best practice guides for Member States/coastal States and for fuel oil suppliers.

Enforcement, compliance with and monitoring of the new sulphur limit is the remit and responsibility of States Party to MARPOL Annex VI. The MEPC is expected to adopt a complementary MARPOL amendment, which will prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil - unless the ship has an exhaust gas cleaning system fitted. Adoption of this amendment would not change in any way the entry into force date of the 0.50% limit from 1 January 2020. It is intended as an additional measure to support consistent implementation and compliance and enforcement by States, particularly port State control. The meeting is also expected to adopt the draft 2018 Guidelines for the discharge of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) bleed-off water.

MEPC 73 will consider a number of proposals to address the issue of marine plastic litter from shipping, in the context of 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) on the oceans. A number of proposals have been put forward for consideration, covering issues such as a proposed study on the state of marine plastic litter; looking into the availability and adequacy of port reception facilities; looking at marking and retrieval of fishing gear; reporting the loss of fishing gear and containers; facilitating the delivery of retrieved fishing gear or passively-fished waste to shore facilities; reviewing training; raising awareness; and strengthening international cooperation.

The Committee is expected to develop and agree on an action plan to address marine plastic litter, and to agree on the scope of work for the relevant Sub-Committees, in particular the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR).

On ballast water, the IMO says that MEPC has recognised that there may be a need for future improvements to the BWM Convention in the light of experience gained. MEPC 71 adopted the experience-building phase associated with the BWM Convention and MEPC 72 approved the data gathering and analysis plan for the EBP. Based on the experience and feedback gained, as well as the analysis of the data gathered, draft amendments to the Convention could be put forward for consideration at MEPC 79 in 2022. The Committee will be updated on the status of preparations for data gathering and will consider how to provide the necessary support for the experience-building phase to be administered and executed.

With the Convention in force and the focus now on its effective and uniform implementation, including the experience-building phase, the Committee will consider how matters related to ballast water management should be addressed in a more structured way, through the establishment of clearly defined outputs to organise and prioritise further work. MEPC 73 is expected to approve Guidance on System Design Limitations of ballast water management systems and their monitoring, and to consider draft Guidance on validation of the compliance of individual BWMS with regulation D-2 of the BWM Convention in conjunction with their commissioning. The inclusion of contingency measures in the ballast water management plan will also be considered.

IMO has agreed that its Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) should develop a ban on heavy fuel oil for use and carriage as fuel by ships in Arctic waters, based on an assessment of the impacts of such a ban. MEPC 73 will consider, with a view to approval, an appropriate impact assessment methodology process. Currently, the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil is banned in the Antarctic under MARPOL Annex I regulation 43. It is recommended in the Polar Code that the same rules are applied in the Arctic waters.

Amongst other matters, the MEPC is expected to:

Approve (for adoption in 2019) draft amendments to the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk (IBC Code), including the draft revised chapters 17 (Summary of minimum requirements), 18 (List of products to which the code does not apply), 19 (Index of Products Carried in Bulk) and 21 (Criteria for assigning carriage requirements for products subject to the IBC Code).

Approve a draft MEPC circular on Guidelines for the carriage of energy-rich fuels and their blends.

Approve the draft part IV of the Guidelines for the use of dispersants for combating oil pollution at sea, which focuses on the sub-sea application of dispersant.

Approve, for subsequent adoption, draft Guidelines for the use of electronic record books under MARPOL and associated draft amendments to MARPOL and the NOX Technical Code.