ICS Asks EU Not to Publish Ships' Fuel Efficiency Data

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Published May 21, 2018 12:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

Now that the International Maritime Organization has endorsed a global CO2 reduction strategy, the International Chamber of Shipping is calling on the European Union not to publish data on individual ships' fuel efficiency. The EU's new Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) rules require the European Commission to collect and publish annual data on each registered ship's performance, including average fuel consumption per cargo tonne-mile and total fuel consumption for the year. 

"The industry has made clear its total opposition to the publication of data about individual ships using abstract operational efficiency metrics that bear no relation to CO2 emissions in real life and which will be used to penalize shipowners unfairly," said ICS chairman Esben Poulsson in a statement Monday. "Anything less than a full alignment [of the MRV] with the IMO CO2 data collection system will be seen as a sign of bad faith by many non-EU nations who recently agreed to the IMO GHG reduction strategy, precisely to discourage such unilateral measures." 

ICS asserts that regional regulations on CO2 would have a distortionary effect on shipping markets, with negative effects for shipowners. In the run-up to the vote at the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee's last meeting, ICS raised the possibility that the EU would step in to regulate shipping on its own in order to urge member states to compromise on an IMO plan. 

The IMO's agreed global targets for decarbonization - to cut the sector’s total greenhous gas emissions in half by 2050, regardless of demand growth, and to reduce CO2 output per unit of transport work by 70 percent - adhered closely to the ICS-preferred option. During negotiations, the EU, the Marshall Islands and many environmental groups called for more ambitious cuts, up to and including full decarbonization by mid-century. 

ICS warns of "sulfur chaos"

On January 1, 2020, ships will be required to use bunkers containing less than 0.5 percent sulfur, considerably less than the standard amount in today's heavy fuel oil. Many shipowners expect to switch to medium gas oil in order to meet this requirement, and refiners have proposed a wide variety of new blends that could potentially meet the 0.5 percent standard.

However, the global availability and compatibility of these alternatives are still in question. On Monday, Poulsson called on governments and refiners to provide clarity in order to avoid "sulfur cap chaos."

"At the moment no one knows what types of fuel will be available or at what price, specification or in what quantity. Unless everyone gets to grips with this quickly we could be faced with an unholy mess with ships and cargo being stuck in port," he said. "It is still far from certain that sufficient quantities of compliant fuels will be available in every port worldwide by 1 January 2020. And in the absence of global standards for many of the new blended fuels that oil refiners have promised, there are some potentially serious safety issues due to the use of incompatible bunkers."