ICS concerned about the lack of an ISO Publicly Available Specification for IMO-2020 grade fuels

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The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), in a statement which released on June 18, noted that it remains concerned about the continuous delays in regards with the publication of an updated ISO standard specification to regulate the quality and safety issues of low-sulfur fuels. Since enforcement of the new low-sulfur regulation is expected to commence in only six months, the new standard specification needs to quickly be finalised and distributed to industry stakeholders, ICS notes.

The new standard specification is being developed by IMO’s ISO working group and it is expected to get published as a brand new specification rather than a revision of the ISO 8217 which applies for current bunker fuels. In a recent statement, IBIA (International Bunker Industry Association) noted that the new Publicly Available Specification (PAS) is expected to be available during the second half of this year.

According to ICS, the non-existence of a standard specification lowers the levels of market transparency, which is necessary for the transit into the multi-fuel era. With so many different grade fuels under development, such an ISO-standard specification is very useful for suppliers and buyers to compare and understand the differences among the various offered products.

ICS, in its statement, highlighted the need for all industry stakeholders to use best efforts in order to ensure that only safe and compatible bunker fuels and 0.5% blends will be available in all ports worldwide. In this regard, the timely availability of the new PAS is important so as to shape the initial IMO-2020 fuel grades.

However, while we are moving closer to the 1st January 2020 more and more industry stakeholders are cautious not only about the quality issues that the low-sulfur fuels may bear but also about whether the supply will be there.

Finally, the Chairman of ICS, Mr. Esben Poulsson, welcomed a move by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the IMO, last week, which decided to establish and implement an action plan to deal with all the critical parameters affecting fuel oil safety, taking into account the latest standard specification. According to Mr. Poulsson, it means that bunker suppliers will be encouraged by maritime administration to offer bunker fuels which comply with the forthcoming PAS and the latest ISO 8217 standards.

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