MEPC 75 16 – 20 November 2020 - Summary of Outcome

The 75th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 75) took place remotely from 16 to 20 November. A summary of the main outcome from MEPC 75 is provided below.

Ban on use, and carriage for use, as fuel of HFO in Arctic waters

Draft amendments to MARPOL Annex I (addition of a new regulation 43A) to introduce a prohibition on the use and carriage for use as fuel of heavy fuel oil (HFO) by ships in Arctic waters on and after 1 July 2024 were approved. Currently, a MARPOL regulation prohibits the use or carriage of heavy grade oils on ships in the Antarctic; and under the Polar Code, ships are encouraged not to use or carry such oil in the Arctic.  The mandatory regulation in MARPOL will enhance protection of the environment in Arctic waters.  

The prohibition would cover the use and carriage for use as fuel of oils having a density at 15°C higher than 900 kg/m3 or a kinematic viscosity at 50°C higher than 180 mm2/s. Ships engaged in securing the safety of ships, or in search and rescue operations, and ships dedicated to oil spill preparedness and response would be exempted. 

Ships which meet certain construction standards with regard to oil fuel tank protection (ships with oil fuel tanks located inside the double hull) would need to comply on and after 1 July 2029.

A Party to MARPOL with a coastline bordering Arctic waters may temporarily waive the requirements for ships flying its flag while operating in waters subject to that Party's sovereignty or jurisdiction, up to 1 July 2029. After that date, exemptions and waivers would no longer be applicable.

The draft amendments will now be circulated for consideration with a view to adoption at MEPC 76 in 2021.

Ban on use of cybutryne in Anti-fouling Systems

IMO’s Convention for the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships 2001 (the AFS Convention), which entered into force on 1 January 2017, prohibits the use of anti-fouling systems that contain harmful substances. The Convention defines anti-fouling systems as “a coating, paint, surface treatment, surface or device that is used on a ship to control or prevent attachment of unwanted organisms”. Keeping ships’ hulls clean and free from fouling organisms enable the ships to travel faster through the water with lower fuel consumption. However, the compounds used in the systems leach into the sea water, killing not just the targeted organisms but also harming other sea life and possibly entering the human food chain.

The AFS Convention already prohibits the use of biocides containing organotin or TBT compounds and MEPC 75 has now approved amendments to Annex 1 to the Convention to include controls on the biocide, cybutryne.

The prohibition on anti-fouling systems containing cybutryne (also known under its industry name, Irgarol-1051) are proposed to apply to ships from 1 January 2023 or, for ships which already have such an anti-fouling system, at the next scheduled renewal of the anti-fouling system after 1 January 2023, but no later than 60 months following the last application to the ship of such an anti-fouling system.  Exemptions apply however to fixed and floating platforms, FSUs and FPSOs constructed prior to 1 January 2023 and not dry-docked on or after that date; ships not engaged in international voyages and ships of less than 400 G, if this is accepted by the coastal state. The amendments approved also includes an operative paragraph with respect to issuance of the new International Anti-fouling System Certificate (IAFSC).

The amendments are expected to be adopted at MEPC 76 in June 202, with entry into force on 1 January 2023.

BWMC 2004 - Commissioning testing of ballast water management systems

Amendments to the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004 (BWMC 2004) concerning commissioning testing of ballast water management systems (BWMS) were adopted by MEPC 75. The commissioning testing, which tests for the biological efficacy of a BWMS, will be required at the ship’s initial survey, or during an additional survey for retrofits. The test is done to confirm that a BWMS is correctly installed on the ship and meets the D-2 discharge standard. The test is required only once but needs to be completed before the International Ballast Water Management Certificate (BWM Certificate) for D-2 is issued. This requirement does not apply to ships that already have an installed BWMS certified under the BWMC.

Ship owners and operators must contract with a test facility for the testing, or request the BWMS manufacturer or shipyard to arrange the testing by an independent test facility The commissioning test analysis will be based on BWM.2/Circ.70/Rev.1 (revision approved at this session), and may use indicative, as opposed to detailed, analysis methods. The draft revised “Guidance on ballast water sampling and analysis for trial use in accordance with the BWMC and Guidelines (G2)” was approved as BWM.2/Circ.42/Rev.2 at this session.

MEPC 75 additionally adopted amendments to the form of the BWM Certificate. A new tick box for management methods other than D-1, D-2 and D-4, meant for vessels using alternative approaches such as reception facilities (B-3.6-7), has been added to the Certificate.

The above amendments are expected to enter into force on 1 June 2022.

New short-term measures for cutting GHG emissions

Members are referred to the Club’s recent update (IMO – New short-term measures to implement Green House Gas (GHG) strategy) reporting on the two IMO draft mandatory short-term measures for cutting the carbon intensity of existing ships. The two new requirements are;

“(i) The technical requirement on all ships to reduce carbon intensity, based on a new Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI). Ships are required to meet a specific required EEXI which is based on a required reduction factor (expressed as a percentage relative to the EEDI baseline); and

(ii) The operational carbon intensity reduction requirements, applicable to ships of 5,000 gt and above, based on a new operational carbon intensity indicator (CII).  The CII determines the annual reduction factor needed to ensure continuous improvement of the ship’s operational carbon intensity within a specific rating level. Documenting and verifying the ship’s actual annual operational CII against its required annual operational CII would enable the improvement or otherwise of the ship’s operational carbon intensity year on year to be determined, and rated accordingly.”

MEPC 75 has approved the two new draft measures.

The ship’s EEXI is to be verified and a new Energy Efficiency Certificate issued to the ship no later than the first annual International Air Pollution Prevention (IAPP) survey on or after 1 January 2023. This is a one-off certification.

All ships of 400 GT and above will need to have an approved SEEMP on board on or before 1 January 2023.  For ships of 5,000 GT and above, the SEEMP needs to include an implementation plan on how to achieve the CII targets. A ship will be rated A - E based on the improvement or otherwise of her year on year operational carbon intensity.

The draft amendments will now be put forward for formal adoption at MEPC 76 session, to be held during 2021.

MARPOL Annex VI amendment to strengthen EEDI phase 3 requirements

MEPC 75 also adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to significantly strengthen the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) "phase 3" requirements, bringing forward the entry into effect date of phase 3 to 1 April 2022, from 2025 for several ship types, including gas carriers, general cargo ships and LNG carriers. This means that new ships built from that date must be significantly more energy efficient than the baseline. 

For container ships, the EEDI reduction rate is enhanced, significantly for larger ship sizes, as follows:

For a containership of 200,000 DWT and above, the EEDI reduction rate is set at 50% from 2022

For a containership of 120,000 DWT and above but less than 200,000 DWT, 45% from 2022

For a containership of 80,000 DWT and above but less than 120,000 DWT, 40% from 2022

For a containership of 40,000 DWT and above but less than 80,000 DWT, 35% from 2022

For a containership of 15,000 DWT and above but less than 40,000 DWT, 30% from 2022

MARPOL ANNEX VI - New provisions for fuel oil sampling, testing and verification

The following amendments were adopted at MEPC 75, and are expected to enter into force on 1 April, 2022.

New Definitions in Regulation 2

New definitions in Regulation 2 including a definition for “Sulphur content of fuel oil” and for two new fuel oil samples, were adopted;

“Sulphur content of fuel oil” means the concentration of sulphur in any fuel oil, measured in % m/m as tested in accordance with standard acceptable to the Organization;

“In-use sample” means the sample of fuel oil in use on a ship; and

“On board sample” means the sample of fuel oil intended to be used or carried for use on board that ship.

Fuel oil sampling and testing

Amendments to Regulation 14, ‘Sulphur oxides (SOX) and particulate matter’, to require one or more  sampling points to be fitted or designated for the purpose of taking representative samples of fuel oil in use or carried for use were approved. Existing ships constructed before 1 April 2022, will need to comply with these amendments no later than the first International Air Pollution Prevention (IAPP) certificate renewal survey carried out on or after 1 April 2023. A reference to sampling points and any exemption to this provision for low flash-point fuel (flashpoint <60°C) are to be noted on the IAPP Certificate issued.

The representative samples of the fuel oil being used on board will also be used to verify that the fuel oil complies with the regulation. A new Part 2 to Appendix VI of MARPOL Annex VI sets out the verification procedure for the new “in-use” and “on-board” samples. Unlike the delivered sample taken during bunkering, samples for “in-use” and “on-board” with a sulphur content of up to 0.53% may be accepted as compliant.

Although these amendments are not expected to enter into force until 1 April 2022, the IMO (see MEPC.1/Circ.882 16 July 2019) and the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) (IBIA’s statement to MEPC 75) are urging Member Governments to start applying the approved amendments in advance of their entry into force, to ensure a consistent approach to verifying compliance with the sulphur limit of fuel oil delivered to, in-use or carried for use on board a ship. 

Jacqueline Tan


Source Legal Services Manager