The bunker fuel supply chain responsible to ensure safety of compliant fuels, say Greek Shipowners

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The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS), in a statement released on Tuesday 18 June, criticizes the IMO, the bunker suppliers and other industry stakeholders for failing to ensure that safe and compliant bunker fuels will be available on 1st January 2020 in order to allow Shipowners comply with the new regulation, without taking operational risks.

Main scope of this statement was to congratulate the International Maritime Organisation for the decisions taken the previous week under its MSC 101 meeting. Specifically, UGS praised IMO for its action plan against suppliers where the quality of the fuels is substandard and puts safety into risk. For example when the fuel does not comply with minimum flash point as required by the International Conventions.

Despite the congratulatory character of the statement, UGS raises serious concerns about the readiness of the industry to comply with the new regulations. According to UGC President, Theodore Veniamis, the international fleet “can not properly and safely comply” with the IMO-2020 regulation, despite its obligation to do so, since refineries and other stakeholders of the supply chain have not complied with their responsibilities and the IMO does not properly regulate those parties, like it does with ship operators. This fact “has created a serious anomaly which needs to be urgently addressed at the highest political level,” Mr. Veniamis notes.

It is not the first time that the Union of Greek Shipowners has voiced their concerns about the effects of the new low-sulfur cap, despite the fact that it has largely welcomed the regulation and the continuous progress made by IMO Committees. Last month, in another statement, the Union mentioned that the responsibility placed upon ship operators is still unfair and it looks like the Union’s position has not yet altered.

In its latest statement, Greek shipowners note they are pleased that some of the concerns which were strongly voiced by their Union were finally addressed by the IMO and were not overridden by commercial interests. This fact shows that “IMO fully recognised that the responsibility and liability for the provision of safe and compliant fuels lie with the bunker fuel supply chain,” Greek Shipowners conclude.

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