Photo: INTERCARGO’s Chairman, John Platsidakis; Image Courtesy: Capital Link

Intercargo: Importance of Policing Compliant Fuels’ Quality Underestimated

The importance of securing a reasonable level of safety of MARPOL and SOLAS compliant fuels as of January 1, 2020, seems to have lost on importance even at the level of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo) believes.

Policing the quality of the new compliant fuels seems to be a great challenge already, as it has proved extremely difficult to address the very serious recent problems with existing fuels, the organization said.

Namely, the recent circulation of contaminated fuels has affected over 150 vessels, causing even one grounding.

Contaminated marine fuel can cause considerable damage to ship engines, jeopardizing the safety of the ship and its crew.

The spread of contaminated fuels from Houston area to Singapore, Panama and Malaysia, earlier this year has had little response from the relevant authorities outraging the maritime community.

The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (Intertanko) stressed that so far there has been no investigation on the causes of the problem, sources of contamination and the potential remaining contaminated fuel batches, or corrective actions whatsoever.

“This crucial message has unfortunately been distorted even at IMO level. The successful and orderly
implementation of the regulation rests with the IMO Member States and with suppliers (involving oil refineries, bunker suppliers and charterers) who need to secure the worldwide availability of safe compliant fuels – a particular problem for ships in the tramp trades,” Intercargo pointed out.

Commenting on other pressing issues at the moment, the association insisted on timely investigations of incidents on board bulk carriers, especially in the wake of the fatal accidents from last year that claimed 32 seafarers’ lives, Stellar Daisy and Emerald Star.

“The importance of investigating an incident and the subsequent publication of a casualty investigation report cannot be over stated; the dry bulk industry expects strict compliance with IMO’s Casualty Investigation Code, which might even necessitate a “naming and shaming” enforcement process. We invite the IMO to regularly publish casualty analyses,” the association added.

Finally, Intercargo said it remains committed to investigating the ongoing practical problems in retrofitting existing dry bulk ships with ballast water management (BWM) systems and operating them.

As informed, implementation challenges  include adequate worldwide spares support for these systems, the availability of proven systems, which can perform under all conditions, and service backup. The association believes that achieving the effective implementation of the BWM Convention will require working closely with the manufacturers.