Direction of Travel: MARPOL VI Regulations

In a recent article for the shipping industry magazine Bunkerspot, firm Principal J. Stephen Simms explains that using ISO 8217 specifications along with MARPOL VI regulations in sales terms and conditions can be problematic for bunker suppliers.  In the post-January 2015 landscape, the ISO 8217:2012 and MARPOL Annex VI requirements do not quite match up, which is important to understand in light of the increasingly strict enforcement of MARPOL VI regulations. Specifically, MARPOL Annex VI has imposed increasingly restrictive requirements for fuel sulphur content -- .10% sulphur content maximum for emission control areas, which is a drastic reduction from the 1.0% sulphur content maximum prior to December 31, 2014.  ISO 8217 allows for a more forgiving margin in testing fuel content for compliance; however MARPOL VI requires exact compliance, with no allowance for error.  If bunker suppliers and traders confirm that the fuel they sell will absolutely test to MARPOL standards, regulators do not have to accept any variance from those standards as compliant, and recent trends are evidencing that they won’t.

To avoid unnecessary problems with regulators, fuel suppliers should specify in contracts that any claimed non-compliance with ISO 8217 must be determined by the customer and reported no later than ten (10) days after the bunkers’ provision.  Sales terms and conditions also explicitly should limit the amount of any claimed damaged from alleged ISO 8217 non-compliance to the bunkers’ value.  Additionally, any specified compliance with MARPOL VI requirements must be made explicitly subject to the testing variances allowed by ISO 8217 Annex L.

For more information on considerations for fuel suppliers in complying with ISO 8217 and MARPOL VI requirements and how to incorporate them into their terms and conditions,a full PDF version of the article is available here.