Paris MoU guidance on Reg 18 / III / VI MARPOL - Fuel availability


Published: 12 February 2015

Shipping is now settling in to the post change over period following the new sulphur content limit for vessels entering and operating in designated Emission Control Areas. The Paris MoU has now issued guidelines on compliance and inspection matters.

The guidelines

The Paris MoU, covering 27 maritime administrations in and around Europe, has issued guidelines on the application of MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 18 in an Emission Control Area (ECA), which are republished next to this advisory.

Regulation 18 of Chapter III of Annex VI of MARPOL concerns issues of the (non) availability of MARPOL compliant fuel.

The guidance on an inspection by a port state control officer (PSCO) for a vessel within an ECA includes:

  • looking at the bunker delivery note (BDN)
  • checking the MARPOL sample of the fuel
  • verifying that there is a written procedure as well as record of fuel changeover

Should a non-compliance be found then a more detailed inspection would follow.

Risk management advice

Should a vessel not be able to obtain compliant fuel, then it might be able to utilise the provisions of Regulation 18, but the Association would caution that this is not a "get out" provision for compliance. It is likely that in practice PSC will rigorously test any attempted reliance on this provision to ensure that best efforts were in fact made to source compliant fuel.

In order to be able to rely on Regulation 18's provision it will be necessary, at a minimum, to:

  • present a record of efforts made to source compliant fuel
  • show evidence of an attempt to buy such fuel
  • demonstrate efforts made to locate alternative sources
  • notify the port state administration in the port of arrival of this situation
  • notify the vessel's flag state of this situation
  • further evidence will be the vessel's voyage plan (and how it corroborates the non-availability of compliant fuel)
  • provide contact details of fuel suppliers approached for compliant fuel
  • plans to obtain compliant fuel at the first port of call in an ECA

For a full list of pertinent points, reference should be had to the Paris MoU's guidelines.

The advice must be that vessels should seek to take all reasonable steps to ensure they are using compliant fuel before entering an ECA and have sufficient fuel on board for the full time spent in the ECA or have viable plans for re-supply while in the ECA.

Should vessels experience difficulty in this regard, they are asked to contact the Association soonest so that the situation can be assessed and a strategy worked out to minimise the risk of a non-compliance or at least improve the prospect of successfully relying on the provisions of Regulation 18.

The Association would again caution members that these new MARPOL standards are being taken very seriously and that the primary party responsible for compliance is the shipowner.

Hot tip: These guidelines only apply to Paris MoU PSC inspections - the EPA and USCG have their own inspection criteria and approach to fuel non-availability situations.

Further reading

The International Council on Combustion Engines has issued a Guideline to the Interpreation of Marine Fuel Oil Analysis Test Results "with Particular Reference to Sulphur Content". This publication is attached to this advisory.

The Association has also produced its own guide to the use of low sulphur fuels, as well as a number of loss prevention bulletins.

Should members have a vessel specific enquiry, they are asked to contact their usual Skuld business unit.

The Association is grateful to correspondents SCUA Antwerp for assisting with this update.