The good news in shipping this past week has been the comments from within the industry that Fuel Oil Non Availability Reports (FONAR) will not regarded as valid reasons to use non-compliant fuels when the IMO sulphur starts.
This stemmed from a comment by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) which welcomed in principle the decision made at the recent IMO PPR 6 meeting “that safety or operational concerns about the quality of low sulphur fuels may, in exceptional circumstances, be a valid reason for ship owners to be issued with a Fuel Oil Non Availability Report (FONAR) when the sulphur cap takes effect.” You could almost hear the relief in some quarters when they heard this but compliance is going to be patrolled and monitored both in and out of port. As was pointed out, this is not a free pass to carry non-compliant fuel.
Since the decision to implement the IMO cap there have been suggestions that lack of new fuel availability, pricing and an attitude of defiance in some quarters might see the non-compliance rate rise after January 1 2019. But the recent suggestions to have Port State Control involved in checking this and stricter controls on bunkering have scuppered any ideas that non-compliance will be an easy option. The truth is that the circumstances in which a FONAR could be used will be very limited with strict conditions attached to their use.
Those involved in regulatory matters continue to adhere to the view that even though pricing may be higher for the new fuels, this will not be considered a valid reason for claiming non-availability of safe and compliant fuel. Compliance will be high on the agenda and there are also other reasons why ship owners, managers, operators and charterers need to recognise its worth. Damage to engines and the threat of breaking down in the middle of the ocean and the financial implications are always a concern. With the changeover to lower sulphur fuels this should not be something a ship owner wants to be concerned about. With so much at stake in shipping it is not hard to understand why compliance needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind once the IMO sulphur cap starts.