Since 1 January 2020, the global upper limit on the sulphur content of ships' fuel oil has been reduced to 0.5% from 3.5% (under the so-called "IMO 2020" regulation). This is significantly reducing the amount of sulphur oxide emanating from ships and will have major health and environmental benefits, particularly for people living close to ports and coasts.
Information from various sources has indicated a relatively smooth transition to the 0.50% sulphur limit. Prices for compliant fuels - very-low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) and marine gas oil (MGO) rose quickly initially but now appear to be stabilizing. As of 20 January, 10 cases of compliant fuel being unavailable had been reported in IMO's Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS); and the dedicated email address established by the IMO Secretariat (email@example.com) has not received any specific correspondence reporting issues with implementation.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said "I believe it is testimony to the diligence and dedication of IMO, its Member States, the shipping industry, the fuel supply industry and other relevant industries that such a major rule change is being implemented successfully without significant disruption to maritime transport and those that depend on it."
He added, "The next important target is fast approaching, when carrying non-compliant fuel oil on board ships becomes prohibited on 1 March 2020. I urge all shipowners, operators and masters to comply with the carriage ban, where applicable, when it comes into effect. IMO will remain vigilant and ready to respond and provide any support. I would like to thank, sincerely, IMO Member Governments, the shipping industry and all stakeholders, including shippers and the fuel oil supply industry, for their efforts so far and to ask for further cooperation to ensure IMO 2020 is implemented properly."
Note: In the GISIS module, the IMO Secretariat has examined the records that have selected the check-box for fuel oil "Not exceeding 0.50% m/m (in effect 1 January 2020)". Individual records need to be viewed to access this information.