News 29 Dec, 2009

EU Sulphur Directive - EC Recommendation

The full text of the European Commission (EC) Recommendation on the “Safe implementation of the use of low sulphur fuel by ships at berth in Community ports” has now been published. 

As previously indicated, vessels may still be penalised if they fail to comply with the “at berth” provisions of the EU Sulphur Directive as from 1 January 2010. However, after considering the possible risks the EC has deemed it necessary to provide Member States with guidance regarding enforcement “in order to ensure a high level of safety and effective prevention of pollution from ships”, acknowledging that “there are still ships which have not gone through the necessary modifications” and that “very few ships have undergone the necessary verification and certification process”.

Consequently the Recommendation states that non-complying vessels should be asked for detailed evidence of the steps they are taking to achieve compliance.  Such evidence should include “a contract with a manufacturer and an approved retrofit plan which should be approved by the ship’s classification society or, for ships flying the flag of a Member State, by the organisation having recognition in accordance with Regulation (EC) 391/2009 of the European Parliament and the Council”. Moreover, “the retrofit plan should clearly state the date of completion of the adaptation and certification process”.

In the case of non-complying vessels, Member States are invited to take the existence of an approved retrofit plan into account when considering possible penalties.

Particular attention should be paid to Paragraph 10 of the Recommendation which states that for vessels still in need of modification, the whole process should not take more than eight months.