For vessels sailing with high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) on board due to a delay in EGCS installation as a result of Covid-19, DNV GL recommends that owners and operators are proactive, transparent and cooperative with relevant authorities
According to the advisory, it is “vitally important” for owners and operators to inform port state control (PSC) and be ready to implement any required contingency measures approved by PSC and the flag state.
“IMO does not consider Covid-19 to fall under force majeure. In addition, the ’unforeseen delay’ clause in MARPOL only applies to newbuildings and not alterations/conversions,” DNV GL’s bulletin said.
Without an approved EGCS, vessels carrying non-compliant fuel are in breach of MARPOL Annex VI. Vessels which are not able to de-bunker will need to find a solution acceptable to PSC and the flag state.
In such cases, DNV GL said MEPC.1/Circ.881 Guidance For Port State Control on Contingency Measures for Addressing Non-Compliant Fuel Oil applies.
In dealing with the bunker, DNV GL said PSC must evaluate and decide on “managing the non-compliant fuel oil in accordance with a method acceptable to the port state”.
The company’s advice is that owners and operators ensure no emissions to air beyond what is acceptable by MARPOL, to seal off the inlet and outlet valves of the tank containing the non-compliant fuel, noting the seal numbers and tank sounding in a surveyor-approved oil record book under the heading ’Additional operational procedures and general remarks’.
From 1 March 2020, under IMO 2020 rules, HSFO cannot be carried in a vessel’s fuel oil tank unless the vessel is fitted with an EGCS or another approved equivalent compliance measure.
However the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has resulted in delays in scrubber installations aboard vessels. DNV GL’s advisory said there is no general procedure in place to deal with drydocked ships awaiting scrubber installations and having non-compliant fuel oil on board.
One notable case so far has been MSC Joanna. In March, MSC said it was in discussions with the Federal Transport Authority of the UAE following the container ship’s detention.