The International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo) has expressed growing concern about the implementation of the IMO 2020 sulphur cap and the availability of safe, compliant fuels. 

In light of the “magnitude of the challenge lying ahead for the industry and the need for a smooth transition”, Intercargo said that it is extremely worrying that compliant fuels have so far been made available in just a limited number of ports. 

Further still, these fuels have been introduced under “unfavourable terms for voluntary early testing by ships”, added Intercargo. As it stands, charterers and operators are not currently obliged to purchase future compliant fuel. The practical testing of new fuels as well as crew training, which is only possible under real conditions aboard ships, is limited and therefore being pushed towards the end of the year. 

This situation, according to Intercargo, creates significant safety implications for the ship operation.

In anticipation of the new fuels being made available for practical testing before the end of 2019, Intercargo urges the fuel supply industry to provide the market with significant volumes of compliant fuels at many ports around the world, so that all sectors can be serviced.

The association also called upon charterers and operators to start purchasing these fuels and enhancing crew training.

Intercargo added: “The Publicly Available Specification (PAS) related to the 0.5 percent limit [needs to be] made available as soon as possible to provide guidance on the application of the existing ISO 8217 specification for marine fuels.”

If the safety implications of the implementation of these new fuels are not addressed early enough, Intercargo warned that this could threaten the safety of seafarers, ships and cargoes, as well as the marine environment.