Assessment of penalties for non-compliance with the EU Ultra-Low Sulphur Fuel Directive

13 January 2010

As highlighted in the previous London P&I Club News Alert, from 1 January 2010 the European Union Ultra-Low Sulphur Fuel Directive requires many ships to burn only ultra-low sulphur fuels while berthed in an EU port. However, the available ultra-low sulphur fuels are distillates and many ships have boilers which have not yet been converted to burn distillate fuels. Further, the use of distillate fuels in an unconverted boiler presents a serious safety risk.

The previous News Alert confirmed that the EU Commission would issue a Recommendation to Member States about how the existence of a Class approved retrofit plan could be taken into consideration when assessing the penalty for any ship found to be unable to comply with the Directive.
The Recommendation has now been issued and a copy is attached. However, the Recommendation goes no further than re-stating that Member States "may consider" the existence of a Class approved plan.

The key points appear to be that:
EU Member States are recommended to request non-compliant ships to provide evidence of a contract with a boiler manufacturer and a Class approved retrofit plan.
The plan should clearly state the date of completion of the adaptation and certification process. The document implies that the completion date should be before 1 September 2010.
In addition to their obligations to ensure that ships are either compliant or are close to compliance, the Commission recommends that Member states take appropriate measures to raise awareness of the safety risk arising from the use of distillate fuels in boilers that have not been adapted.