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South Africa: Key Legislation Needed Ahead of Sulphur Cap

South Africa will be ready to implement new global ships fuel regulations aimed at prevention of air pollution by ships at sea, but may have to pick up pace putting in place prerequisite legislation to legalize the process.

This was the general consensus view of more than 100 industry and government delegates to a two-day consultative workshop in Cape Town last week, according to South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

Among issues discussed by the delegates were matters concerning the availability of fuel that meets the new requirements, the proper handling of ships coming into South African ports without the compliant fuel, the availability of facilities to test fuels in use by ships, the handling of vessels using non compliant fuel but fitted with sulphur reducing equipment.

Delegates also explored the subject of the coming implementation of the new ship fuel requirements both in its environmental and economics perspectives. All agreed that from an environmental context, these were necessary measures, but with possible economic implications that were not all too rosy, at least in the short term.

Namely, a key instrument in the process is a yet non-existent but crucially important piece of legislation to legalize the implementation of the new regulations.

The delegates agreed that this needs to be expedited without further delay and South Africa’s Alternate Permanent Representative to the IMO, Sipho Mbata said he believed crafting the legislation would be achievable as it only required the Minister of Transport to facilitate the enactment process. Mbata added that the most viable approach to passage of the necessary legislation would be in the form of an annexture to an already existing law, rather the a bill process that would take anything up to two years prior to enactment.

The new regulations are in terms of the IMO’s MARPOL Convention (Annexture VI) whose goal, according to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is to further reduce air pollution by ships through emission.

The revised regulations for the prevention of air pollution from ships under the MARPOL (Annex VI) were adopted in October 2008 and ratified by more than 65 countries including South Africa.

In terms of this, all sizes of ships sailing on the world’s oceans will need to use fuel oil that meets the 0.50% limit from January 1, 2020. The 0.50% sulphur limit extends to carriage of bunker fuel with sulphur content of more than 0.50% for vessels not fitted with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGSC). The carriage ban will come into effect on March 1, 2020.