Latest Development on Energy-efficiency in International Shipping by IMO (MEPC 68th session)

(Energy-efficiency and air pollution implementation at IMO environment meeting, Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 68th session.11-15 May 2015)

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Further development of energy-efficiency guidelines for ships

The MEPC continued its work on further developing guidelines to assist in the implementation of the mandatory energy-efficiency regulations for international shipping and:

• adopted amendments to update the 2014 Guidelines on survey and certification of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) and endorsed their application from 1 September 2015, at the same time encouraging earlier application;

• adopted amendments to the 2013 Interim Guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions, for the level-1 minimum power lines assessment for bulk carriers and tankers, and agreed on a phase-in period of six months for the application of the amendments; and
• adopted amendments to update the 2014 Guidelines on the method of calculation of the attained EEDI for new ships.

EEDI review work to continue

The Committee considered a progress report from the correspondence group established to review the status of technological developments relevant to implementing phase 2 of the EEDI regulations, as required under regulation 21.6 of MARPOL Annex VI and re-established the correspondence group to further the work and submit an interim report to MEPC 69.

Text agreed for further development of a data collection system to analyse the energy efficiency of ships

The MEPC agreed text for its further development to be the full language for the data collection system for fuel consumption of ships, which can be readily used for voluntary or mandatory application of the system. In this regard, the Committee noted that a purpose of the data collection system was to analyse energy efficiency and for this analysis to be effective some transport work data needs to be included, but at this stage the appropriate parameters have not been identified.

The proposed text refers to ships of 5,000 GT and above collecting data, to include the ship identification number, technical characteristics, total annual fuel consumption by fuel type and in metric tons and transport work and/or proxy data yet to be defined. The methodology for collecting the data would be outlined in the ship specific Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP).

Data would be aggregated into an annual figure and reported by the shipowner/operator to the Administration (flag State) which would submit the data to IMO for inclusion in a database. Access to the database would be restricted to Member States only and data provided to Member States would be anonymized to the extent that the identification of a specific ship would not be possible.

The MEPC agreed to recommend to the IMO Council the holding of an intersessional working group to: further consider transport work and/or proxies for inclusion in the data collection system; further consider the issue of confidentiality; consider the development of guidelines identified in the text; and to submit a report to MEPC 69.

GHG reduction target for international shipping considered

The MEPC considered a submission from the Marshall Islands, calling for a quantifiable reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

During the discussion, the Member States that spoke acknowledged and recognised the importance of the issues raised by the Marshall Islands and also recognised that, despite the measures already taken by the Organization regarding the reduction of emissions from ships, more could be done.

However, whilst expressing gratitude to the Marshall Islands for the submission, the Committee took the view that the priority at this stage should be to continue its current work, in particular, to focus on further reduction of emissions from ships through the finalization of a data collection system. The Marshall Islands proposal could then be further addressed at an appropriate future session of the Committee. ​The need to consider the proposal further was recognised and the Committee also looked forward to a successful UN climate change conference (UNFCCC COP 21 meeting) in Paris later this year.

Revised air pollution guidance and requirements agreed

The MEPC considered a number of amendments and revisions to existing guidance and requirements related to air pollution measures and in particular:

  • • adopted amendments to the 2009 Guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems (resolution MEPC.184(59)). The amendments relate to certain aspects of emission testing, regarding measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2), clarification of the washwater discharge pH limit testing criteria and the inclusion of a calculation-based methodology for verification as an alternative to the use of actual measurements;
    • approved, for adoption at MEPC 69, draft amendments to the NOX Technical Code 2008 to facilitate the testing of gas-fuelled engines and dual fuel engines for NOx Tier III strategy;
    • approved, for adoption at MEPC 69, draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI regarding record requirements for operational compliance with NOX Tier III emission control areas;
    • approved Guidance on the application of regulation 13 of MARPOL Annex VI Tier III requirements to dual fuel and gas-fuelled engines; and
    • adopted amendments to the 2011 Guidelines addressing additional aspects to the NOX Technical Code 2008 with regard to particular requirements related to marine diesel engines fitted with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) Systems (resolution MEPC.198(62)).

The Committee also agreed, for consistency and safety reasons, to proceed with the development of guidelines for the sampling and verification of fuel oil used on board ships.

Fuel oil availability review to be initiated this year

The MEPC agreed terms of reference for the review, required under regulation 14 (Sulphur Oxides (SOx) and Particulate Matter) of MARPOL Annex VI, of the availability of compliant fuel oil to meet the global requirements that the sulphur content of fuel oil used on board ships shall not exceed 0.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2020. The IMO Secretariat was requested to initiate the review by 1 September 2015, with a view to the final report of the fuel oil availability review being submitted to MEPC 70 (autumn 2016) as the appropriate information to inform the decision to be taken by the Parties to MARPOL Annex VI.

A Steering Committee consisting of 13 Member States, one intergovernmental organisation and six international non-governmental organizations was established to oversee the review.

The sulphur content (expressed in terms of % m/m – that is, by weight) of fuel oil used on board ships is required to be a maximum of 3.50% m/m (outside an Emission Control Area (ECA)), falling to 0.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2020. Depending on the outcome of the review, this requirement could be deferred to 1 January 2025. Within ECAs, fuel oil sulphur content must be no more than 0.10% m/m.

Fuel oil quality correspondence group re-established

The MEPC considered the report of the correspondence group established to consider possible quality control measures prior to fuel oil being delivered to a ship. The correspondence group was re-established to: further develop draft guidance on best practice for assuring the quality of fuel oil delivered for use on board ships; further examine the adequacy of the current legal framework in MARPOL Annex VI for assuring the quality of fuel oil for use on board ships; and submit a report to MEPC 69.

Black carbon definition agreed

The MEPC agreed a definition for Black Carbon emissions from international shipping, based on the “Bond et al.” definition which describes Black Carbon as a distinct type of carbonaceous material, formed only in flames during combustion of carbon-based fuel, distinguishable from other forms of carbon and carbon compounds contained in atmospheric aerosol because of its unique physical properties.


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IMO Briefing: 19, May 18, 2015.
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