Regulators Steer Clear of National Bunker Licensing Schemes
Date: Friday, December 7, 2018
Source: Lloyd's List
Safety regulators at the International Maritime Organization did not move forward with a proposed national bunker supplier licensing scheme to strengthen the fuel supply chain, leaving the matter to their environmental counterparts.
The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee convening its 100th meeting in London this week was discussing a proposal made by Liberia and shipowner associations International Chamber of Shipping, Intertanko, Interferry and IPTA.
The IMO currently demands that countries party to the 2020 sulphur cap convention maintain a register of bunker suppliers in their countries.
With a spate of fuel contamination problems making waves earlier this year and with the sulphur cap around the corner, the co-sponsors suggested to the MSC that the IMO consider establishing mandatory bunker supplier licensing schemes instead, to improve the quality of the fuel supply chain and mitigate fuel safety concerns.
While some delegates at the MSC were in favour of the move, most argued that it is not MSC’s business as the proposal requires changes to International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Marpol), which falls under the purview of the Marine Environment Protection Committee, not the MSC.
It is unclear what that means for the long term prospect of the proposal. The co-sponsors could submit it to the next MEPC meeting in May 2019.
There was also strong division among member states on the suggestions to delegate responsibility of safety issues around fuel from the MEPC to the MSC or to add provisions on fuel safety to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (Solas), the convention MSC is responsible for.
Both the MEPC and MSC deal with safety issues around fuel. But the proposal's co-sponsors felt it was prudent for the MSC to ask for the responsibility since it is the MEPC that makes final decisions on Marpol annex VI, the sulphur cap convention, and a number of countries party to Solas are not subject to the sulphur cap.
Some member states were opposed to changes to the status quo, while others warned it was necessary to address fuel concerns.
The committee ultimately agreed to form a working group to explore how the MSC can enhance fuel safety at its next meeting in the spring of 2019.