EU ready to demand more sulphur inspections
16th January 2015 23:30 GMT

The European Union (EU) has made a decision on the frequency of the inspection and sampling of ships' fuels as part of the regime to check compliance with sulphur regulations, according to the Danish Ministry of the Environment.

Rules for member states in terms of inspections, and reporting control data to the European Commission (EC), have been agreed in connection with the reduction of the sulphur limit for ships operating in emission control areas (ECAs) to just 0.10%. The reduction means ships must use more expensive low sulphur fuels - or apply approved abatement technology to achieve equivalent emission reductions.

"Under the agreement, the member states have committed to ongoing monitoring of ships and to take samples of their fuel," said the Danish ministry, adding member states would also have to comply with rules for how they take fuel samples from ships.

Denmark is already well advanced with its ECA compliance monitoring plans, and has just issued a tender for emissions monitoring from strategic installations and air surveillance. "Therefore, I am pleased that my colleagues in the European Union now has undertaken similar initiatives," commented the Minister of the Environment, Kirsten Brosbøl.

There has not yet been any public announcement of the decision by the Commission, and there appears to be some confusion as to whether the guidelines referred to by the Danish ministry are completed.

In fact, the European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF) Subgroup on Implementation of the EU Sulphur Directive has yet to finalise instructions on inspection frequency and inspection guidelines, including how to take samples from ships for compliance testing purposes. These may be finalised at a meeting at the end of January.

However, an official with the Danish Ministry of the Environment pointed Bunkerworld to a draft text from December, showing the “Implementing Decision” of the Commission that now appears to have been adopted.

It lays down the rules concerning sampling methods and frequency as well as reporting as regards the sulphur content of marine fuels.

"Physical sampling of marine fuel being used for the purpose of verifying compliance should be carried out either through obtaining and analysing a fuel spot sample from the ship’s fuel service system, or by analysing the relevant sealed bunker samples on board," it says.

"The frequency of sampling should be determined on the basis of the number of individual ships calling in a Member State, the verification of ship documentation, the use of alternative targeting technologies to ensure a fair share of burden among Member States and cost-effectiveness as well as specific alerts about individual ships.

"The sampling of marine fuels while being delivered to ships should target marine fuel suppliers who have been repeatedly found not to comply with the specification stated on the bunker delivery note, taking into account the volume of marine fuels marketed by the supplier.”

Specifically, it calls for Member States to carry out inspections of ships’ log books and bunker delivery notes (BDN) on at least 10% of the total number of individual ships calling in the relevant Member State per year.

Then, from January 1, 2016, it requires Member States to carry out sulphur tests on the marine fuel being used on-board on a certain percentage of ships calling at their ports. This varies from 40% (of the minimum 10% ships that are inspected) for Member States fully bordering ECAs, 30 % in Member States partly bordering ECAs to 20% in Member States not bordering ECAs.

Sampling and analysis of marine fuels while being delivered to ships is also required “by those marine fuel suppliers registered in that Member State that have been found at least three times in any given year to deliver fuel that does not comply with the specification stated on the bunker delivery note,” on the basis of officially reported figures.

Unni Einemo, 16th January 2015 23:30 GMT

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