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Greek Shipowners Strongly Support Enforcement of Global Sulphur Cap


Port Wings News Network:

The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) remains firmly committed to the successful transition to the 0.5% global sulphur cap in marine fuels and the related dates that have been agreed at the United Nations International Maritime Organization (UN IMO).

At the same time, it fully supports the effective implementation and enforcement of the new regulation through the establishment of a UN IMO institutionalized data collection, analysis and review stage, as the minimum safeguard, given the safety and operational issues already identified. This is in line with the traditional role of the UN IMO and the need to give priority to the protection of life at sea and the protection of the environment, a principle deeply embedded in the maritime code of values of the Greek shipping community.

Mr. Theodore Veniamis, President, UGS, stated: “We cannot turn a blind eye to the uncertainties regarding the availability and supply of MARPOL compliant fuels which are also SOLAS compliant, safe, fit-for-purpose and available worldwide, particularly in the bulk/tramp sector. The option of achieving compliance through continued combustion of high-sulphur fuels with installed scrubbers, which in any case has questionable net environmental benefit, is the exception to the rule, especially in this sector due to its fundamental operational characteristics.”

Bulk/tramp shipping which represents more than 83% of the world’s seaborne trade in cargo ton-miles and in which Greek shipping is primarily involved is by nature itinerant. Its modus operandi does not allow for contractual arrangements to be made with refineries and bunkering facilities at specific ports, as may be the case in other shipping sectors characterised by the regularity of their itineraries and the frequency of their sailings. Moreover, a lack of international standardization – ISO standards for the new type of compliant fuel will not be ready for January 1st 2020 – only adds to the complexity and compounds the problems. Post 2020, ships involved in bulk/tramp shipping will, in all likelihood, have to bunker untested and diverse fuel blends from different sources around the world, which are especially problematic, as the surge of fuel contamination instances has already indicated.

The stakeholders of the bunker supply chain have recognised the potential safety and operational issues related to the supply and use of 0.5% maximum sulphur fuels and are proposing the issuance of extensive guidance for ship operators and crews. However, the responsibility of the marine bunker supply chain cannot be shifted onto ship operators and crews. Ship operators and crews should not be held disproportionately responsible for the safety and environmental consequences of the provision of unsafe or unsuitable fuels.

The UN IMO shipping industry guidance is of course welcome but it is not enough; it needs to be coupled with an institutionalised process which will ensure the proper management of the 2020 sulphur cap issues, taking into account all related parameters, the breadth and width of which are yet unknown. The proposal made to the forthcoming meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC73) by flag states representing more than 46% of the world’s shipping capacity along with international shipping associations for the introduction of an Experience-Building Phase contributes to this aim.

“The ultimate aim should be that the industry in its totality uses safe and suitable, low-sulphur marine fuels. The UN IMO should not allow a trade-off between formal compliance and the safety of ships, crews and protection of the environment”, Mr. Veniamis concluded.


The Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS) had the pleasure to welcome to its premises the Board of Directors of Danish Shipping in the context of the bilateral meetings of the two national shipowners’ associations.

Representing two traditional maritime nations, the Board of Directors of Danish Shipping, headed by its Chairman, Mr. Niels Smedegaard, met with the President, Mr. Theodore Veniamis and members of the UGS Board of Directors and engaged in what was described by both sides as “an open and constructive dialogue” on an array of important shipping issues.

“We appreciate the opportunity to exchange views and hold fruitful discussions with our Danish colleagues and we are particularly pleased that they share the same willingness for collaboration and mutual understanding of viewpoints and positions, as the UGS”, Mr. Veniamis commented.

The meeting reaffirmed the fact that, regardless of any sectorial differences, the shipping industry stands united in support of the principles of free trade, open markets and free and fair competition in an international level playing field. The two associations stressed the strategic importance of EU shipping for the EU’s prosperity and for the welfare of its citizens, pointing out that the strategic role of EU shipping, especially in serving the extra-EU trade and securing the EU’s energy supplies and other essential goods, should be highlighted at all levels.

Regarding the various environmental issues, it was underlined that Danish Shipping and the UGS are firmly committed to what has been agreed at the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO), in respect of both the 0.5% global sulphur cap in marine fuels, the carriage ban on non-compliant fuels and the further Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reductions from ships. In this context, the two associations stress the need for all related stakeholders to provide the shipping industry with the necessary safe and fit for purpose fuels. Both associations also support the UN IMO decisions and process leading to the decarbonisation of global shipping as soon as possible this century, noting, however, that this will require carbon-free fuels and new technology for all shipping sectors.

“From the meeting with Danish Shipping, it became clear that, despite differences in approach and priorities, there is clearly a lot of common ground between the two associations which we are keen to further develop”, Mr. Veniamis stated.

Mr. Smedegaard stated “ that both UGS and Danish Shipping have a mutual interest in developing a responsible global shipping industry leading the way forward in facilitating trade and keeping a global level playing field when it comes to environmental and climate related regulation. Uniform implementation of regulation and strong enforcement is of the essence”.

The two associations have committed to further enhancing their cooperation on matters of mutual interest with the UGS visiting Copenhagen in the not-to-distant future and certainly within 2019.

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