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IMO MEPC67 Closure brief

The 67th session of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is approaching closure and the below gives a brief outline of the meeting.
Among the many agenda items discussed, the following were the most important and were all debated at length during the meeting:
Ballast Water Management
The Ballast Water Review Group was re-established with a number of tasks to complete arising from numerous submissions under the MEPC 67 agenda item, including a paper co-sponsored by BIMCO on Measures to be taken to facilitate entry into force of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004. The paper recognises the pragmatic and helpful nature of Assembly resolution A.1088(28) “Application of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004”. 
Before the Ballast Water Review group was sent out, the MEPC 67 agreed that the Guidelines for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems (G8) needed revision to accommodate the concerns raised by industry. It was further decided that no owner should be unduly penalized for having installed BWM system under the current G8. The MEPC 67 chairman included almost all the concerns made by industry in his work and BIMCO welcomes the good spirit of co-operation.
The Ballast Water Management Review Group approved the following for subsequent adoption by the MEPC 67: 
*       The Guidelines for Port State Control inspections for compliance with the BWM Convention  
*       A MEPC resolution on “Measures to Be Taken to Facilitate Entry into Force of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, 2004”
*       A work plan for a review of the “Guidelines for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems (G8)”
A correspondence group on the review of the G8 was approved. It will report back to MEPC 68. BIMCO will be participating in this correspondence group. 
The MEPC resolution covers the industry’s concerns raised in the above-mentioned submission regarding a more robust type approval under the G8 as well as ensuring that owners having installed Ballast Water Management Systems approved under the current G8 will not be unduly penalized.
During this week, Japan and Turkey have ratified the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments 2004, bringing the number of Contracting States to 43 countries, representing approximately 32.54% of world merchant shipping tonnage meaning that now only 2.46% is needed to bring the BWM Convention into force.
Polar Code
The work on part II on pollution prevention measures of the draft International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) was finalised. The draft Polar Code consists of additions to MARPOL Annexes I, II, IV and V. In general, the IMO agreed to extend the stringent requirements in force in the Antarctic area to Arctic waters.
Part II of the Polar Code is expected to be adopted at MEPC 68.
Further technical and operational measures
BIMCO, along with several other industry associations, had submitted a paper to the committee arguing for a substantial debate to be undertaken on basic policy questions about the applicability of operational efficiency standards for merchant ships.
As usual when IMO is debating issues linked to greenhouse gas the room was divided. The proponents of such initiatives, namely the EU countries, the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zeeland, argued that a working group should be allowed to develop such measures. On the other hand, a large group of other countries led by Cook Islands, the large registries, China and India, along with many others, argued that at present, the work should be limited to a system to collect fuel consumption data only.
The decision of MEPC was thus to task a working group with developing such a fuel consumption data collection system. This decision is very much in line with the joint industry position.
The working group developed some principle outlines of a data collection system that will be further developed by a Correspondence Group until next MEPC in Summer 2015. It is expected that a data collection system may be approved earliest at MEPC 68 or more realistically, by MEPC 69 in 2016. Adoption could thus follow at MEPC 70 in late 2016, with entry into force some 16 months later, i.e. earliest by mid-2018.
BIMCO is expecting that the proponents of development of energy efficiency standards will continue their work to modify the scope of the data collection system to include data for transport work. It appears, however, to be an up-hill battle, considering the strong opposition at MEPC.
3rd IMO GHG Study
The MEPC discussed the final report of the consortia tasked to develop the GHG study update. After some technical deliberation on fulfilment of the Terms of Reference set out by MEPC, the committee approved the report for publication.
BIMCO is pleased to see the new data which shows a decline of shipping’s share of global CO2 emissions since 2007.
Air pollution and energy efficiency
MEPC 67 decided to establish a working group tasked with a large variety of subjects. Some of the more important ones are listed below:
Minimum power
MEPC considered proposed amendments to the 2013 interim guidelines for determining minimum propulsion power to maintain the maneuverability of the ship in adverse weather conditions. In the light of the forthcoming changeover from the two-year phase zero period (between January 2013 and January 2015) to phase one, the guidelines are to ensure that ships will have installed sufficient installed power on-board regardless of the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) reference level. (The EEDI reference level will be tightened every five years, in 2015, 2020 and 2025 by 10% EEDI value reduction each time). 

As ships to be built in phase two (between 2020 and 2025) are about to be commenced, the guidelines had to be amended to cover for phase two ships as well.
Some delegations expressed serious concerns because the installed main engine power of many new ships may be unable to fulfil the required minimum power as per the interim guidelines. They therefore suggested the minimum power threshold be increased with 10%. 
BIMCO and other industry associations, as well as the majority of the working group, were not convinced of the necessity for this increase and therefore MEPC 67 is expected to extend phase 1 to phase 2 without modification. There are several research projects going on providing experimental results in 2016 and MEPC will await these results before deciding further on phase three.
Speed trial model test
With regard to the speed trials and model test procedures for EEDI verification (ISO 15016), the working group was informed about the good and collaborative efforts made by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International towing tank Conference (ITTC) in finalising the harmonized standards. The aim of issuing a common standard is to ensure an international, robust, reliable and user-friendly test procedure when performing speed trial test. 
BIMCO has been following the harmonisation of the two standards closely as we find it important to have robust standards in such an important area. The new guideline has been significantly improved in a number of issues. First of all, it is more transparent and secondly, it is more robust compared to the previous versions. We believe it is ready to be published for the benefit the entire industry. 
The ISO standard is currently in the final process of being approved officially by ISO. When approved, MEPC will commence an update of the relevant guidelines with proper references.
Dual-fuel engines
The working group was also tasked to consider amendments to the 2014 guidelines on survey and certification relevant to ships with dual-fuel engines. For the past several years BIMCO has been advocating for adoption of simple solutions and in this regard, introducing dual or multi-certification for EEDI, which allows a ship to have more than one EEDI. The working group did not, however, find this proposal adequate and decided instead to develop criteria for a “primary fuel” approach for ships equipped with dual-fuel engines operating on primary and secondary fuels e.g. LNG and fuel oil.
In determining which fuel is primary, the working group decided to use the threshold value of 50% of the calorific value. The flag Administration can, however, agree to lower the value of the percentage, taking into account the intended voyage, e.g. short sea shipping.
Fuel quality
BIMCO, together with other industry associations, submitted comprehensive papers to this MEPC promoting means and processes to achieve a more effective quality control of marine fuels prior to delivery on board. 
MEPC had a long and thorough discussion on this matter, as many delegations found fuel oil quality to be a purely commercial issue between the buyer and the supplier of the fuel oil, which should not involve the appropriate authority.
Many delegations agreed that the obligation to deliver fuel that meets a certain standard rests with the supplier, who should verify compliance through a quality control mechanism prior to supplying the fuel to ships. MEPC was, however, divided on the question whether guidelines for the control and enforcement of supply of compliant fuel as required by MARPOL Annex VI should be exercised on mandatory or voluntary basis.
MEPC 67 was unable to conclude on the matter and decided to establish a correspondence group with the aim of developing guidelines on this issue.
Members will receive a more extensive report of the MEPC 67 meeting once the official draft report of the meeting has been received by the BIMCO Secretariat.