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BIMCO president blasts ill-judged regulations

There is evidence of a growing push-back by shipowners organisations as the 2020 sulphur cap deadline looms and the full range of possible consequences sinks in. BIMCO president Anastasios Papagiannopoulos has urged owners to make their voice heard more clearly but also throw their support behind moves that can mitigate some of the worst risks of measures that, he said, had been passed without proper analysis of consequences

Anastasios Papagiannopoulos had ballast water management and the 2020 sulphur cap in mind as he complains that the debate on making shipping greener has been hijacked by opportunists, environmentalists and media

SHIPOWNERS’ organisations have been urged to wrest back some measure of influence over the debate on environmental regulations.

“Opportunistic alliances, environmental organisations and misinformed journalists have managed to lead on the issues related to the environmental footprint of international shipping,”Anastasios Papagiannopoulos, president of Copenhagen-based BIMCO, told a conference in Athens.

Measures such as those for ballast water management and those proposed for emission reductions lack “the appropriate technical and financial analysis of their consequences”, and even the technology for implementation, he said.

Mr Papagiannopoulos recognised that information was crucial, but said that the industry had struggled to get its message across.

“Maritime organisations such as the Round Table [of international shipping associations] and shipowners’ unions should not be silent.”

He made the comments after Union of Greek Shipowners’ president Theodore Veniamis used the same event to attack “obvious uncertainties” and safety risks created by the 2020 sulphur cap measures.

The BIMCO president’s speech adds to a growing push-back by shipowners and operators who are, in effect, being asked to take a leap of faith on the sufficient availability of safe, compliant fuels for their vessels.

According to Mr Papagiannopoulos, existing refinery capacity is insufficient to produce enough straight-run compliant fuel and many refineries will chose to blend, with accompanying risks of incompatibility and separation between different fuel types.

Meanwhile, he saw a catalogue of problems with scrubbers, ranging from national regulations restricting the discharge of waste to their overall environmental impact and resulting market distortions.

He urged the industry to try to mitigate “inappropriate” measures by pushing “corrective policies that reduce the risks”.

He cited the example of the ‘experience building phase’ or ‘adjustment period’ proposal to the International Maritime Organisation which is backed by several major flag states alongside BIMCO, Intertanko and Intercargo.

BIMCO has committed to develop a series of 2020 bunker clauses that will include contractual clauses setting out time charterers’ obligations and liabilities in providing 2020-compliant fuel, and others dealing with the transition period just before and after the January 1 deadline, and scrubbers.

“It will be a useful means of sharing the responsibilities of the parties involved fairly, protecting the ship and the ship owner from unreasonable and unilateral risks,” said Mr Papagiannopoulos.

Shipowners’ organisations were being “absolutely reasonable” in asking for “fair participation” by other involved parties in implementing new environment measures. Instead, though, others championed environmental action but looked to “the shipowner’s purse” to subsidise it.

Insurers, charterers, oil companies, port authorities, the European Union, states, shipyards, and machinery producers should all understand that “environmental protection is not an easy ride,” he said.

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