UGS welcome for MSC fuel safety has sting in its tail

Paul Gunton

Paul Gunton · 21 June 2019


A statement issued by the Union of Greek Shipowners welcoming recent decisions taken at MSC 101 with regard to fuel safety, carried a barbed comment about the likely availability of safe fuels and called for political intervention.

The statement opened by saying the UGS warmly welcomes the decision to adopt an action plan for mandatory measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil and Resolution MSC.465(101) recommending as a matter of urgency governments to take action against oil fuel suppliers in confirmed cases of deliveries of fuel oil that does not comply with the minimum flashpoint as required by the SOLAS Convention. States around the world are urged to make full use of this Resolution as an important tool in order to take appropriate measures imminently to safeguard the safety of ships.

The UN IMO MSC 101 concluded on the need to establish and implement an appropriate Action Plan to deal with all the critical parameters affecting fuel oil safety, including those related with blended fuels, taking into account in all cases the latest edition of industry standards such as ISO 8217:2017 and ISO/PAS when available. It also unambiguously acknowledged the responsibility of fuel oil suppliers for the provision of safe fuels, including in the action plan mandatory requirements for suppliers’ confirmation that each actual fuel batch delivered complies with SOLAS requirements and calling for action by the governments when the flashpoint requirements are not met.

“We are especially pleased that the pressing and genuine concerns about the safety and liability issues of the 0.5% Sulphur marine fuels, first voiced and in strong terms by the UGS, were not overridden by commercial interests”, the President of the UGS, Theodore Veniamis stated. “We are equally pleased that the UN IMO fully recognizsed that the responsibility and liability for the provision of safe compliant fuels lie with the bunker fuel supply chain”, he continued.

However and despite these most important developments, 2020 is just around the corner, the international shipping industry and international trade are entering a new era and yet there is still no guarantee that safe compliant marine fuels will be available worldwide in the actually required quantities. This is officially and widely acknowledged.

“This predicament, whereby the UN IMO has introduced a global regulation that the international fleet is obliged tο comply with but cannot do so properly and safely because other stakeholders (oil companies, refineries, bunker suppliers), which the UN IMO does not regulate, have not lived up to their contingent responsibilities, is untenable and has created a serious anomaly and precedent which must be urgently addressed at the highest political level”, Veniamis concluded.

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