As mentioned above, it is important that there is a level playing field for shipowners. Unscrupulous operators who (deliberately) do not comply with the sulphur regulations may not be allowed to make economic gains. This calls for robust enforcement with appropriate sanctions to prevent this from happening.
A good example of how to accomplish this was suggested by the shipping sector itself. The proposed solution prohibits having fuel with a sulphur percentage higher than 0.50% on board after 1 March 2020*. Exceptions to this rule would be if a vessel is equipped with a scrubber, or if it could be demonstrated that low-sulphur fuel was unavailable.
If no low-sulphur fuel is available at a particular port, a globally unified procedure must be implemented that shipowners can follow without being penalized.
Finally, many shipowners have concerns about the stability of the new ship fuels. The quality of these low-sulphur 0.50% fuels is expected to vary greatly in different parts of the world. Moreover, many ship fuels are incompatible with each other, which can lead to potential problems with tanks and engines. The fuel left over from one voyage cannot be mixed with a new load of fuel as easily as before. Therefore, crews and bunkering departments of shipowners and charterers must pay close attention to which fuel they have to order.
* The global 0.50% sulphur cap came into effect on 1 January 2020, but the ban on having high-sulphur fuel on board took effect on 1 March 2020. This is due to the legal procedures within the IMO.