Legislation the final cog needed to ready South Africa for new low sulphur ship fuel requirements

DSC_2166.JPGPretoria: 28 July 2019

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 legalise the process.

This was the general consensus view of more than 100 industry and government delegates to a purpose fit two day national consultative workshop in Cape Town this past week.

DSC_2100.JPGAmong those attending were representatives of various sub-sectors of the maritime transport industry, fuel producers and distributors, bunkering services providers, ship owners and shipping agents, cargo owners, academics, various government departments representatives including the Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fishing ministry, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transport, as well as the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

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Dr John Calleya. Technical Officer: IMO Sub-division for Protection Measures Marine Environment Division.

Also attending was an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) senior official to provide guidance and insight into the global implementation of the new 0.50% sulphur limit in ships fuel come 1 January 2020.

The new regulations are in terms of the IMO’s MARPOL Convention (Annexture VI) whose goal, according to the 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 1 January 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 1 March 2020.

According to SAMSA, ships must operate using compliant fuels of 0.50% sulphur or less from 1 January 2020 unless they are provided with an approved ‘equivalent’ means of compliance.

In part preparation for the implementation of the new regulations, next January, SAMSA had issued two Marine Notices ( Marine Notice No. 8 of 2019 and Marine Notice No. 9 of 2019 ) to industry, and may yet issue another soon.

At the two day workshop in Cape Town on Wednesday and Thursday this past week, 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.

Crucially, by the time they dispersed on Thursday afternoon the attendees were generally confident that all key role-players were well positioned and prepared to contribute to the success of the implementation of the regulations from the set launch date of 1 January 2019.

However, a key instrument to knead it all together would be a yet non existent but crucially important piece of legislation to legalise the implementation of the new regulations – a task that is the responsibility of the Department of Transport along with SAMSA.

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Mr Sipho Mbata. South Africa’s Alternate Permanent Representative to the IMO. London.

This, all delegates were agreed, it needed to be expedited without further delay and South Africa’s Alternate Permanent Representative to the IMO, Mr Sipho Mbata said he believed crafting the legislation would be achievable as it only required the Minister of Transport to facilitate the enactment process.

According to Mr Mbata (who also chatted quite extensively with this blog about the entire Marpol Convention and particularly the relevant annexture to the Cape Town workshop), the most viable approach to passage of the necessary legislation would be in the form of an annexture to already existing law, rather the a bill process that would take anything up to two years prior to enactment.

He expressed confidence that this would not present a problem as facilitation for passage of the necessary legislation only required the Minister of Transport.

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Mr Sobantu Tilayi. Acting Chief Executive Officer: South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

Meanwhile, SAMSA acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sobantu Tilayi, described the gathering and consensus seeking two day workshop for the maritime transport sector in Cape Town as a crucial step towards an ensuring that all role-players were singing from the same hymn book.

For his full remarks, Click on video below.

IMO representatives, Dr John Calleya, a technical officer in IMO’s Protection Measures for Maritime Environment division described the workshop and level of discussions as highly positive towards ensuring that South Africa would be prepared by the implementation date.

He also expressed appreciation for the industry representation during the workshop. For his full remarks (1minute 45 seconds), Click on the video below:

Meanwhile, in the video below, Mr Mbata gives a full perspective of the endeavors behind the IMO Marpol Convention on the combating of pollution by ships and South Africa’s important role in ensuring its success. Click on the video below.

This news information may be updated with edited video clips of the workshop proceedings including contributions by the various role players, as well floor discussions. These will be uploaded as soon as available.