The IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) held its 70th Session from Monday 24 through Friday 28 October 2016 under the chairmanship of Mr Arsenio Domingues (PANAMA) and his Vice Chair, Mr H Saito (JAPAN), both of whom were re-elected for 2017.
Two Working Groups (WG), one Drafting Group (DG), one Review Group (RG) and a Technical Group (TG) were formed and chaired as follows:
- WG1 Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency, Mr K Yoshida (JAPAN)
- WG2 GHG Emissions from Ships, Mr H Saito (JAPAN)
- DG1 Amendments to Mandatory Instruments, Mr H Steinbock (GERMANY)
- RG1 Ballast Water Management, Mr C Wiley (CANADA)
- TG1 Special Areas and PSSAs, Dr A Makinen (FINLAND)
The large meeting was attended by over 800 delegates from exactly 100 Member Governments and 2 Associates, together with Representatives from 3 UN and Specialised Agencies, 5 Inter-Governmental Organisations and 49 Non-Governmental Organisations.
In welcoming everyone, the Secretary-General of IMO, Mr K Lim, spoke of the challenge to ensure that future global growth can be achieved sustainably and traced how he envisaged IMO could contribute in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that world leaders had pledged in 2015. He next spoke of the MEPC’s packed agenda (167 documents submitted under 18 items) and highlighted the Ballast Water Management Convention, also the demands of the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change on IMO as to the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions by ships. In addition he referred to the mandatory energy efficiency requirements for international shipping which have been in force for over three years and for which he expected the meeting to endorse a further amendment to MARPOL Annex VI requiring ships to record and report data on their fuel consumption. He also hoped that the Committee would take a decision on the implementation of a global sulphur cap based on a review of fuel oil availability.
Returning to the Paris Agreement, he acknowledged that it addresses the emissions of individual countries, but that shipping is not a country, it is a global industry. Finding an effective [and fair] way to allocate emissions is not straightforward in that ships can move between different flags as easily as they can sail between different countries.
In concluding, he again acknowledged the heavy demands of such a packed agenda but expressed every confidence for a successful outcome of the meeting.
Amendments to mandatory instruments
DG1 was instructed to prepare final text and draft amendments to MARPOL Annex 1 (Appendix II), Annex V and Annex VI plus associated resolutions. Subsequently, the Committee:
- adopted the draft amendments to MARPOL Annex 1, Appendix II, related to Form B of the Supplement to the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPPC) and resolution;
- adopted the draft amendments to MARPOL Annex V related to HME substances and Form of the Garbage Record Book, and its resolution. Most notably, this will make it mandatory for shippers to specify whether a cargo is deemed HME or otherwise on its entry into force of 1 March 2018 and also to categorise bulk cargo residues as either HME or non-NME in the Garbage Record Book;
- adopted the draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI related to data collection for fuel oil consumption (for which a CG will be re-established) on or before 31 December 2018, and associated resolution. The SEEMP will include the methodology by which the data will be collected / utilised.
All conditions of the BWM Convention were met on 8 September 2016 by the accession of FINLAND thus triggering an entry into force date of 8 September 2017. The number of Contracting Governments is currently 53 representing 53.28% of world tonnage. Following a comprehensive discussion in Plenary focussed on the Report of the Intersessional Working Group which had met on the week preceding MEPC 70, a Ballast Water Review Group (RG1) was established. Its subsequent recommendations were actioned by the Committee as follows:
- adopted the revised Guidelines (G8) developed by the Intersessional WG and its associated resolution;
- agreed that the guidelines should be used from adoption and that all new Type Approvals from 28 October 2018 should meet the new requirements;
- agreed that Ballast Water Systems installed on ships after 28 October 2020 should be approved under the revised G8 guidelines;
- agreed that a review of the dates will be carried out i.a.w. regulation D-5 to determine achievability.
Further extensive discussions took place in Plenary where a majority of delegations expressed the view that amendments approved at MEPC 69 to regulation B-3 of the BWM Convention should not be further pursued. However, notwithstanding broad support for this view, the Chairman ruled, by way of compromise, that :
- the amendments approved at MEPC 69 must be maintained, but that;
- draft alternative amendments to regulation B-3 developed by delegations in favour of such amendments would be annexed to the MEPC 70 report; and that,
- the issue will be revisited at MEPC 71 with a view to making a final decision before circulation (8 September 2017) of the draft amendments to regulation B-3.
Essentially, the alternative text will not require ships whose IOPP certificate falls due prior to 08 September 2019 (2 years after Entry into Force of the Convention), to fit BWMS until the second IOPP Renewal whereas ships with an IOPP renewal date after 08 September 2019 will be required to maintain the first renewal date for fitting of BWMS. The debate was championed by LIBERIA, INDIA and WSC, ably supported by INTERCARGO.
Air pollution and energy efficiency
A very broad spectrum but points of most interest are that :
- The Committee agreed to modify the Guidelines regarding the on-board sampling for verification of the sulphur content of fuel oil used on board ships;
- The subject of Minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions remains a bone of contention within the Industry. However, MEPC 68 had agreed to await the outcome of research projects, the results of which will be known prior to MPEC 71 where further discussion will take place;
- Agreement was given to designate the North Sea and the Baltic Sea as emission control areas for Nox Tier III control with an effective date of 1 January 2021. This will include exemption provisions allowing ships fitted with dual fuel engines or with only Tier II engines to be built, converted, repaired and / or maintained at shipyards located in Nox Tier III ECAs, with a view to adoption at MEPC 71.
- WG1 concluded that the current EEDI Phase 2 requirements should remain unchanged and that it would be necessary to start a thorough review of EEDI phase 3 requirements and their early implementation (2022), as well as the possibility of establishing a phase 4 soon after MEPC 71. However, it was acknowledged by a large number of delegates that certain ship types (such as bulk carriers already struggling to meet phase 2 requirements) may have difficulty in achieving early implementation of phase 3.
Fuel oil availability
MEPC68 established a Steering Committee to initiate a review of global fuel oil availability. Following a study commissioned by the Steering Committee and subsequently carried out by the contractor (CE Delft Consortium), the Committee agreed that the study had met the terms of reference as to the 2020 date being achievable and therefore qualifies to inform MPEC 70’s decision regarding the implementation date of the proposed 0.5% sulphur cap. Worthy of note however is that the findings of a supplementary but independent study conducted by IPIECA and BIMCO were much less bullish as to global refinery capacity being able to meet regional demands concomitant with a 0.5 sulphur cap by 2020. There followed a very extensive debate in Plenary which, despite Industry concerns with unstable fuel oils and the widespread use of blends leading to fuel oil quality problems, also safety issues including the use of non-SOLAS compliant fuel oils due to use of cutter stock with low flashpoint and potential increased presence of refinery catalyst fines, not to mention an unbalanced market which could lead to unfair competition, the Committee agreed to ‘1 January 2020’ as the effective date of implementation for ships to comply with 0.50% m/m sulphur content of fuel oil requirement as set out in regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI. Noting the Industry’s concerns on safety and regional supply difficulties together with those on implementation, the Committee agreed to forward document MEPC 70/5/2 to PPR 4 for due consideration and to draft a justification and scope for a new output as to what additional measures might be developed to promote consistent implementation of the 0.5% global sulphur limit for consideration at MPEC 71.
Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP)
The Committee approved a draft revision of the 2012 ‘Guidelines for the development of a SEEMP’ submitted by WG1. Note was taken of the WG1 discussions on draft Guidelines for Administration data verification procedures, also that of development and management of the IMO Ship Fuel Consumption Database. In consideration of both these matters it was decided to re-establish the correspondence group on the data collection system with a view to submitting a report to MEPC 71.
Reduction of GHG emissions of ships
WG 2 developed a roadmap for a ‘Comprehensive IMO Strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships’. This was subsequently endorsed by the Committee, the main features being:
- Adoption of Data Collection System, Beginning of Voluntary data collection, also submission and Approval of Roadmap;
- Week before MEPC 71. First of regular Intersessional Meetings to discuss IMO Strategy on GHG ship reduction;
- Spring 2018. Adopt initial IMO Strategy (subject to revision based on emission data collection);
- January 2019. Start Phase 1 of 3-step approach and initiate 4th IMO GHG Study using 2012 – 2018 data.
- Autumn 2020. Start Phase 2 of 3-step approach. Analyse data, also publish 4th IMO GHG Study and consider at MEPC 76.
- Spring 2022. Phase 3 of 3-step approach, decision step.
- Spring 2023. Revised IMO Strategy for adoption at MEPC 80, including any short / mid / long-term measures if required.
The Committee agreed WG 2’s proposal for the establishment of an intersessional working group on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships, subject to endorsement by Council (C117), to begin work on the roadmap and also to invite Council to endorse the holding of further intersessional meetings during the current and the next biennium.
Identification and protection of special areas and passas
TG 1 was tasked to review the proposal by Papua New Guinea to designate the Jomard Entrance as a PSSA and having established that the application meets the Revised PSSA Guidelines (resolution A.982(24)), the Committee adopted the draft MEPC resolution designating the Jomard Entrance as a PSSA.
MEPC 71 is tentatively scheduled to take place from 8 to 12 May 2017 and MEPC 72 in Spring 2018.