Outcomes of the IMO MEPC 68 Meeting

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The sixty-eighth session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) was held in London from 11 to 15 May 2015. This note provides a summary of the key points. 
 
Ballast Water
Long discussions were held on issues surrounding the Ballast Water Management Convention. Although, there was no progress on the ratification of the Convention- currently only 44 states have signed it, representing 32.86% of the world’s merchant fleet tonnage - it is believed that the Convention will come into force in the near future.
 
Review of G8 Guidelines
The report of the Correspondence Group, which was established at the last MEPC, informed the Committee on the progress made on the review of the Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8). In particular, the report identified a number of issues, such as the effect of temperature in cold and tropical waters on the operational effectiveness and environmental acceptability of the systems, the organisms used by the test facilities, the differences between type approval protocols applied by the Member States, the incorporation of control and monitoring equipment in treatment systems and the definition of viability of organism when considering the use of UV systems etc.
Discussions were also held on whether the Guidelines should be mandatory. While, in principle it was supported that the guidance should be mandatory, it was agreed that the review should be completed, before any mandatory status was decided.
Having noted the good progress made and the further work needed to finalise the review of the Guidelines, the Committee agreed to re-establish the correspondence group, coordinated by the UK, to submit a report to MEPC 69.
 
‘’Grandfathering’’
The agreement made at the last MEPC on the issue of not penalising early movers generated many discussions during the meeting. The views were divided on its interpretation. For some Member States an interpretation at this stage was considered premature. Following extensive discussions, the Committee agreed not to develop an MEPC resolution at this stage. Nevertheless, the Committee agreed to a Roadmap for the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention. The Roadmap, which was based on the paper submitted by the industry, states that shipowners who have installed, maintained and operated systems correctly in accordance with G8 Guidelines (MEPC.174 (58)) should not be required to replace these systems for the life of the ship or the system, whichever comes first, due to the occasional lack of efficacy for reasons beyond the control of the shipowner and ship’s crew. “Not be penalised’’ means also not be sanctioned, warned, detained or excluded. The Roadmap requests that Port States, Flag States, and shipowners to work together to agree on the appropriate solutions to allow for discharges of ballast water found to be non-compliant and invites the Committee to develop Guidance on contingency measures.
Although, this outcome is considered positive, unfortunately the US position not to agree on the principle of non-penalisation of early movers as reflected in the Roadmap, once again hinders the industry’s confidence and subsequently any meaningful progress.
 
Exemptions and Exceptions
The industry’s paper that proposed establishment of ‘’same risk areas’’ in the context of exemptions for short sea shipping and asked for clarification with regard to the application date of D-2 standards for ships trading in areas where the ballast water exchange is prohibited, received support. Subsequently, the Committee agreed to establish a Review Group at the next MEPC, in April 2016, in order to define the term ‘’same location’’ in the context of regulation A-3 of the Convention and develop guidance for exemptions regarding assessment of ports or locations of the ‘’same risk area’’ focusing on short sea shipping and taking into consideration scientific methodologies.
The UK Chamber of Shipping welcomes this development in principle; however in view of the imminent ratification of the Convention, it is concerned that the postponement of this issue to the next MEPC may delay the timely solutions that the short sea sector is waiting for. 
Finally, the Committee clarified that the resolution A.1088 (28), which provides the enforcement schedule of the D-2 standard, applies also for ships operating in sea areas where ballast water exchange is not possible.
 
IMO Study on the implementation of regulation D-2 
The progress of the IMO study, which is being carried out by the IMO Secretary in partnership with the World Maritime University and which aims to provide a comprehensive review of the technical standards and approval testing procedures in the Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems, was noted. In this context, it was noted that the stakeholder participation in the survey, launched to collect data in order to identify similarities/differences in testing and certification and operational performance of the treatment systems, was low.
The UK Chamber of Shipping urges its members to participate in the on-line survey of the study. The survey, which will remain open till 1 June 2015, can be accessed at https://sites.google.com/a/wmu.se/d2study/ and any query can be addressed to: d2study@wmu.se
The outcome of the study will be reported to MEPC 69.
 
USCG type approval
The delegation of the United States advised the Committee on the status of USCG type approval system. It was noted that to date no treatment system has been granted a type approval certificate by the United States. For the United States the systems shall be reviewed by an independent laboratory. Currently four laboratories from different parts of the world have been accepted and 17 manufactures have confirmed their intent to seek type approval, three of which are undergoing testing for type approval. However, it is still uncertain when the first system will be granted type approval.

Amendments to the regulation B-3 on enforcement schedule of BWM Convention
Liberia proposed amendments to regulation B-3 of the BWM Convention, which are based on the recommended relaxation of the enforcement schedule as adopted by resolution A.1088 (28) in order to be amended as soon as possible after entry into force of the Convention.  While the proposal was welcomed and supported in principle, the Committee did not agree to circulate the amendments before the Convention enters into force. In addition, as the proposed amendments referred to the renewal of the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate as the due date for the compliance date with the D-2 standards, it was noted that it is legally incorrect to refer to certificates from another Convention. Therefore, the Committee agreed that a proper legal way should be found to reflect the agreement that the renewal survey is the renewal survey associated with the International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate under MARPOL Annex I.
 
Other issues 
•    As the Convention is not yet into force, many Administrations are not allowing the discharge of treated ballast water from ships with ballast water treatment systems which are still undergoing testing for type approval. Therefore, the Committee will consider developing an MEPC resolution to urge Member States to allow such discharges and invited interested parties to submit relevant proposals.
•    The Committee noted that the total number of type approved BWMS has reached 57.
•    The Committee approved the Revised Guidance on ballast water sampling and analysis for trial use in accordance with the BWM Convention and Guidelines (G2).
 
IMO MRV
The global data collection system for fuel consumption was at the epicentre of political debates at this session. The big developing States were adamant about their position and did not agree to the mandatory application of the system. The European Commission on the other hand presented their rather complex mandatory system. While no consensus was reached on whether the system will be mandatory or voluntary, the Committee made positive progress on the text, particularly with regard to confidentiality of the data and exemption of ships below 5,000 GT.
The Committee agreed the following: 
•    The data collection system should be applicable to ships of 5,000 GT and above;
•    The data should be reported for a fixed period of twelve months;
•    Reporting of the name of the ship, Administration and register owners should not be required as the ship’s IMO number should be sufficient;
•    The database should be administered by the IMO and accessed only by Member States;
•    The registered owner of the ship should be responsible for providing the data to the Administration;
•    The role of the Port State control, if applicable, should be limited to verifying that there is a valid Annual Statement of Compliance on board;
•    The responsibility of reporting rests with the ship;
•    The confidentiality of transport work and/or commercially sensitive data need
•     to be considered;
•    Further deliberations of transport work should be continued, taking into consideration the confidentiality, robustness and simplicity of the system;
•    The three step approach proposed by the United States: data collection, data analysis, followed by decision-making on what further measures, if any, are required;
It is expected that the IMO MRV system will be finalised at the next MEPC following the negotiations that will take place at the COP 21 in Paris, in December 2015.
 
Air emissions from ships
Black Carbon
Despite the attempt made by the Russian Federation to scrap any development on Black Carbon, since according to their assessment the impact of the Black Carbon emissions from ships operating in the Arctic in ice conditions is insignificant to the climate change, the Committee approved the Bond et al. definition as proposed by the Pollution Prevention and Response Sub-Committee. The Committee, noting the need for voluntary Black Carbon measurement studies to be conducted in order to gain experience with the application of the definition and measurement methods, agreed that protocols for such voluntary measurement studies are needed and invited that interested parties to submit relevant proposals/information to the next meeting of Pollution Prevention and Response Sub-Committee.  With respect to this issue, it was also noted that at this stage measures to reduce the impact on the Arctic of emissions of Black Carbon from international shipping is not possible.
 
Bunker delivery note
With regard to the amendment of the bunker delivery note in order to take into account fuel oil burned by ships fitted with scrubbers, the Committee did not make any progress. Instead it instructed the Pollution Prevention and Response Sub-Committee to consider this issue further and report back to MEPC 70, in October 2016.
 
Fuel availability review
The Committee finalised  and agreed the draft terms of reference for the fuel oil availability review (0.50% sulphur content) and requested that the Secretariat initiate the review by 1 September 2015 and submit the final report  to MEPC 70 (October 2016). 
The early review is welcomed as it would provide to the industry the most time possible to make necessary investments in the event that the 0.50% sulphur standard is implemented in 2020.
 
Fuel oil quality
No substantial progress was made at this session with regard to fuel oil quality. Following discussions the Committee agreed to re-establish the correspondence group in order to continue its work on the development of draft guidance on best practice for assuring the quality of fuel oil delivered for use on board ships and consider the adequacy of the current legal framework in MARPOL Annex VI with a view to submit a report to the MEPC 69.
Unfortunately, the IBIA proposal to align the fuel verification procedure, set out in Appendix VI of MARPOL Annex VI and ISO standard 4259 used for the interpretation of sulphur test results, was not supported by the Committee.
With regard to the development of guidance for on-board sampling of fuel oil from the fuel oil service system for Port State control and flag State inspection, the Committee agree to initiate the work. However, the Committee did not agreed to the proposed daft amendments to the MARPOL Annex VI to gradually phase in a requirement for ships to have designated sampling points for fuel oil and regulation 18 of MARPOL as these are proposals to the Convention that require that a new output be put forward.
 
Amendments to the 2009 Guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems
The Committee adopted the resolution on amendments to the 2009 Guidelines for exhaust gas cleaning systems (resolution MEPC.184 (59)).
 
Guidelines for the discharge of exhaust gas recirculation bleed-off water
The Committee agreed to develop guidelines for discharge of bleed-off water from exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) NOx emission reduction systems.
 
Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) Systems
The Committee adopted a resolution on amendments to the 2011 Guidelines addressing aspects of 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)).
 
Energy Efficiency of Ships
NOx Technical Code 2008
The Committee approved draft amendments to the NOx Technical Code 2008 concerning testing of gas-fuelled engines and dual-fuel engines for NOx Tier III strategy, with a view for adoption at MEPC 69. In addition, the Committee approved draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI that require NOx Tier II/Tier III changeover events to be recorded in a log-book prescribed by the Administration to allow Port State Control to verify compliance.
 
Guidance on the application of regulation 13 of MARPOL Annex VI Tier III requirements to dual fuel and gas-fuelled engines
The Committee finalised and approved the draft MEPC circular on guidance on the application of Regulation 13 of MARPOL Annex VI Tier III requirements for dual-fuel and gas-fuel engines. The circular includes provisions for dual-fuel engines, and especially LNG carriers, to be ‘’exempted’’ from the Tier III requirements in situations immediately following building, before and after dry-dock or when repairs or maintenance are done on board the ship.
The UK Chamber of Shipping welcomes this positive and timely outcome for which it had actively lobbied. 
 
Minimum propulsion power
At this session the Committee agreed on the adoption of the draft amendments to the 2013 Interim Guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to maintain the manoeuvrability of ships in adverse conditions. It was also agreed that a period of six months, for the application of the amendments to the 2013 Interim Guidelines, would be necessary.
Additionally, in view of the ongoing international research projects, which results are expected in autumn of 2016, there was no support to amend the Level 2 assessment at this session. 
 
EEDI database
The Committee agreed to include the ship identification number in the EEDI database in order to avoid multiple counts of data. It was agreed that this information would be confidential and therefore, would be held and used by the IMO Secretariat only.
 
Conditions for exemption from SEEMP requirements
With regard to the proposal to exempt a ship solely engaged in domestic voyages from the requirement of having a Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP) on board, in case the ship should make a single international voyage, it was agreed that this proposal should be reviewed further at the next session.
 
2014 Guidelines on the method of calculation of the attained Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships 
The Committee adopted amendments to 2014 Guidelines on the method of calculation of the attained Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) for new ships (resolution MEPC.245 (66) and associated MEPC resolution. The amendments refer to the paragraph 2.6 of the guidelines which is amended as follows:
‘’Vref, Capacity and P should be consistent with each other. As for LNG carriers having diesel electric or steam turbine propulsion systems, Vref is the relevant speed at 83% of MPPMotor or MCRSteamTurbine respectively.’’
 
Polar Code
The Committee adopted the environmental aspects of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) and associated MARPOL amendments to make the Code mandatory. The Committee also approved the associated draft MEPC circular on guidance for issuing revised MARPOL certificates, manuals and record books for compliance with environmental requirements of the Polar Code, with exception the paragraph 15 that refers to the Form of Garbage Record Book, and adopted amendments to MARPOL Annex I, relating tank oil residues (sludge). The Polar Code and the above amendments will enter into force on 1 January 2017.
 
Garbage Record Book
Once again, due to time constraints the amendment of Garbage Record Book was deferred to the next MEPC.
 
2015 Guidelines for the development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials
The Committee adopted resolution MEPC on 2015 Guidelines for the development of the Inventory of Hazardous Materials.
 
Disposal of used cooking oil
No recommendations were made by the Committee on the disposal of used cooking oil. Hence, such disposal should comply with the requirements of MARPOL Annex V.
 
Proposals for new outputs
The following proposals for new outputs were agreed at this sessions: 
•    Standard for shipboard gasification waste to energy systems that would allow the use of emerging waste to energy technology.
•    Review of MARPOL Annex II requirements relating to the discharge requirements for tank washings containing high-viscosity and persistent floating products
Two proposals made by the Russian Federation to evaluate the contribution of merchant ships to underwater noise and further research on the potential operational and environmental effects of using SCR technology were not approved as  new outputs.
 
Date of the next meetings
The next meetings of the Committee (MEPC 69 and MEPC 70) have been tentatively scheduled for 18 to 22 April 2016 and from 24 to 28 October 2016, respectively.