Transition to 2020 low sulphur fuel requirements

Sunday 2 September 2018
From 1 January 2020, all ships and vessels operating anywhere in the world will be required to use fuel oil with a maximum sulphur content of 0.5 per cent m/m.
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Vessels can also use an IMO approved equivalent method, such as an exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber), provided the resulting emissions are the equivalent of 0.5 per cent m/m sulphur.

This new limit aims to reduce the impacts of sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from shipping on the environment and human health.

Australian ships, ports, refineries and fuel suppliers will need to make sure they are ready for the global implementation of this regulation.

The IMO is to finalise guidance on the development of a Ship Implementation Plan (SIP) in October 2018. These plans are non-mandatory, however, can used by a ship to plan and execute their transition to the 1 January 2020 requirement. This guidance includes a template that can be used to develop the plan.

Recent discussions at the IMO have also seen an agreement to ban the use and carriage for use, of non-compliant fuel, unless a ship has an exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber) onboard. This will be considered by the IMO in October 2018 and, if adopted, will come into force globally on 1 March 2020.

Further discussions by the IMO on additional measures to support the implementation will take place in February 2019. This will include the development of a set of guidelines on the transition, which cover:

  • preparatory and transitional issues
  • the impact on fuel and machinery systems of using low sulphur fuels
  • compliance and enforcement considerations
  • handling the non-availability of compliant fuel oil.

AMSA continues to engage interested stakeholders on the implementation of the 1 January 2020 sulphur requirement through a series of roundtable discussions and direct consultation.

AMSA and Maritime Industry Australia Ltd will hold a joint roundtable discussion for interested stakeholders on Tuesday 25 September 2018, hosted by Viva Energy in Sydney.

If you would like to participate in this roundtable discussion or the consultation, please email

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