Initially scheduled to have been held in April this year, MEPC 71 now to be held in June looks set to see some fierce discussions on a number of fronts at least two of which have significance for future scrapping and retrofitting.
After the initial jubilation of ballast system manufacturers when the 2004 convention was set in motion last September, realisation dawned that owners could be taking advantage en masse in the loophole of decoupling their ships’ IOPP certificates from the survey cycle and so giving themselves a further five years through to 2022. At MEPC 70 last year, a proposal was left on the table for discussion at the next session that could see the final implementation date pushed back a further two years through to 2014. There has been gathering support for that with a new joint submissions to MEPC 71 from Brazil, India, Cook Islands, Norway, UK and Liberia in support.
As well as a deferred implementation date, MEPC 71 will also be discussing the revised G8 guidelines for type approval and potential same risk areas that may see some ships able to claim exemption altogether. A further spanner was thrown into the works when Intercargo and Intermanager made a joint submission to MEPC 71 last week detailing the particular problems that bulk carriers with gravity discharge top side hopper ballast tanks will be facing in meeting the requirements. One of the problems will be the additional power requirements necessary for pumping which is likely to be beyond the capacity of some existing vessels.
There are battles ahead too, in the implementation of the 2020 sulphur cap with proposals from several industry bodies aimed at mitigating the effect of the expected massive cost of the current IMO choice. On future emission levels, a gauntlet has been thrown down that would see the IMO needing to participate in the search for future technologies before setting targets that are unachievable with equipment foreseen to be available.
Depending on the outcome of the meeting, ballast treatment system makers will either be relieved or further depressed and there may be a boost for those involved in the future fuels and propulsion sectors.