The White House released a video of President Biden talking to retail CEOs and is pushing the U.S. House to pass the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, which the Senate passed in March.

The law would allow the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to investigate late fee charges by carriers and bar ocean carriers and terminals from refusing to fill available cargo space. The president is pushing a message that the ocean carriers are monopolistic and need to be reined in.

“There’s only nine shipping companies, nine, N-I-N-E, major ocean line shipping companies who ship from Asia to the United States,” Biden said. “These companies have raised their prices by as much as 1,000%.”

Congress will soon be scheduling a vote on the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022.

It has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and is expected to pass. The U.S. House of Representatives is considering voting on the Senate’s version of the bill, which contains deadlines for key provisions, including rulemakings, studies, and reports. Some of those provisions are as follows:

1. Demurrage/Detention rulemaking

The FMC will create rules that define prohibited practices by common carriers, terminal operators, shippers, and ocean transportation intermediaries with regards to demurrage and detention charges. The deadline would be no more than 45 days after enactment and final ruling no later than one year after enactment.

2. Unfair/discriminatory methods rulemaking

The FMC will define what is unfair or unjust discriminatory methods used by carriers. This provision seeks to address concerns and complaints by exports and small shippers. The deadline would be no more than 60 days after enactment with final ruling no later than one year after enactment.

3. Rulemaking on refusing to deal

The FMC, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, will address shippers’ complaints of carriers ignoring customers they deem unprofitable to their operations. The deadline would be no more than 30 days after enactment with a final ruling no later than six months after enactment.

4. Street Dwell Time Statistics

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will approve information for the collection and publication of container dwell times. They will also publish statistics on dwell times for the top twenty-five ports. Dwell time is used to determine detention costs and is a major cause of port congestion. The deadline is not later than 60 days after enactment and not later than 240 days after enactment.

5. Enhancing FMC’s investigation capacity

The FMC will add staff to their five divisions to assist in investigations and oversight. The deadline would be not later than 18 months after the date of enactment.

6. Emergency authority to address supply chain congestion

The FMC will issue an information request for public comment on whether the current supply chain congestion has created an emergency situation that has caused a significant effect on competitiveness and reliability of the international ocean transportation supply system. If such a situation exists, should a temporary emergency order be put into effect and would it alleviate these issues. The deadline would be no later than 60 days after enactment and emergency orders remaining in effect no longer than 60 days.

7. Chassis pool best practices

The FMC will work with the Transportation Research Board to conduct a study and develop best practices for on-terminal/near-terminal chassis pools that provide service to marine terminal operators, motor carries and railroads with the goal of optimizing efficiency and effectiveness. The deadline would be no later than April 1st, 2023, and no later than April 1st, 2024, to publish best practices.

There are some who think this new law will reach too far and cause more harm than good.

They view this as a rush to judgement and more of a knee-jerk reaction to the current supply chain issues. The new rules focus on exports more than imports and do not address the root causes. If other countries are having similar supply chain congestion and increased shipping costs, would action by the U.S. Congress fix those issues or make things worse causing more congestion? Is there anything different with the U.S. situation compared to the rest of the world?

The opposite argument is that Congress should be looking at those factors that affect the U.S. market only and address those issues instead of painting everything with the same broad brush. Only time will tell how this plays out and ripples through the supply chain after the law has been enacted. It will be several years until we have our answer.

France LNG Shipping is a joint venture of NYK Line and Geogas LNG, a subsidiary of France’s Geogas Group.

Elisa Larus has an overall length of 297 m, beam of 46.4 m, with a GTT Mark III Flex cargo containment system and a WinGD X-DF dual-fuel, slow-speed engine.

Built to Bureau Veritas (BV) class, Elisa Larus is the first LNG carrier to be awarded the French classification society’s cyber security notation. The BV cyber notations provide procedures and methodologies to address design and operational requirements for cyber security in compliance with IMO 2021 requirements and the new IACS recommendation 166.

“A cyber security notation from BV provides a pragmatic approach to cyber security – reflecting industry needs and cyber security best practice,” said Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore director of advanced services Jean-Baptiste Gillet. “And with a newbuilding we are able to help ensure ‘cyber security by design’”, added Mr Gillet. BV cyber security notations are based on BV’s rule NR-659 and are the result of co-development with marine security experts.

Elisa Laurus is the first LNG carrier with BV's cyber security notation

Elisa Laurus is the first LNG carrier with BV’s cyber security notation

BV is seeing a rapid growth in the number of ships applying for its ‘Cyber Managed’ notation.

The notation was co-developed by BV and external marine security experts as part of joint technical working groups organised by BV. It ensures compliance with the main existing cyber security standards and will enable shipowners to meet the requirements of IMO’s guidance to administrations that maritime cyber security risk should be reflected in ship security practice under the ISM Code by 1 January 2021.

Shipowners in Greece have been pioneers in applying the notation and now it is gaining traction with other shipowners and across the entire maritime ecosystem, including ship managers, charterers, insurers, and offshore operators.

BV expects that more than 100 ships will be operating under the Cyber Managed notation in 2020.

Cyber Managed focuses on ensuring cyber security is managed on board as per industry best practice for change management and traceability of IS/IT systems on board, emergency procedures and basic security protection measures.

Cyber Managed is based on a security risk assessment developed from an initial mapping of onboard systems that results in a practical set of requirements. The initial risk analysis and mapping exercise can be performed either during the newbuilding phase or at any time during the lifecycle of the vessel. As such, the notation is applicable to both new and existing ships.


IMO 2020

Rome – On 1 January 2020, the date of entry into force of the new Global Sulfur Cap regime, it is a milestone of fundamental importance for international shipping. Last October 2016, the IMO MEPC 70, in accordance with Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention, established the application of the limit of 0.50% m / m sulfur content in marine fuels starting from this term in non-SECA areas. This legislation, based on the study published by DNV GL, will involve more than 70,000 ships, entailing considerable costs for shipowners and a large investment for the continuous search for new technologies.

As is known, at the moment, to achieve the result required by the new legislation, ship owners have the possibility to choose different options based on various factors, including the age of the ship. They are:
1. use of fuel with low sulfur content or fuel blends which comply with the limit of 0.50% sulfur content;
2. use of marine gas oil (MGO) or distillates instead of fuel with high sulfur content (HSFO); 3. modification of ships in operation in order to allow the use of alternative and sulfur-free fuels such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG); and
4. installation of waste gas scrubbing systems (scrubbers) capable of operating with HSFO.

However, this last option risks having huge additional costs for the owners. While some ports such as those in China, Singapore, Belgium and the UAE have already banned the use of open loop scrubbers, the Singapore Port Authority (MPA) has also established that exhaust gas cleaning residues , including those of scrubbers, must be considered as toxic industrial waste which must therefore be managed by companies with specific licenses and transported in packaged form or in tanks on trucks or on boats with a specific license issued by the MPA. All this leads to a significant increase in costs for shipping companies.

With reference to the use of compliant purification devices, it should also be noted that, based on the MEPC 305 Resolution (73), from 1 March 2020, in the absence of the same, a ban on the transport of non-compliant fuel will be in force. purpose of combustion for propulsion or operation on board a ship, maintaining the possibility of transporting HSFO as a cargo. However, in the event of violation of this prohibition, the ship may be seized by the PSC without the need to determine the purpose of use of the fuel: a measure that leaves ample room for the action of the PSC and that has a strong preventive value. The amendment in question entails, inter alia, also a modification of the IAPP certificate such as to specify that, for a ship without a scrubber, the sulfur content of the fuel oil transported for use on board does not exceed 0.50% m / m, as documented by the delivery note of the bunker.

With regard to the use of distillates, it is instead appropriate to consider that a “safety issue” related to the distillation process is configured, which increases the risk of “catalytic fines” both on machinery and combustion plants. These particles can cause considerable damage resulting from the abrasion of the cylinders during the combustion process. It is therefore important to clean the tanks containing the fuel, the c.d. tank cleaning, or use alternative solutions such as the use of specific conversion procedures to be gradually discharged through the feeding system until obtaining the required sulfur content.

The complications arising from the change of fuel can be avoided through the preparation of guidelines and the training of crews, but above all thanks to the use by the shipping companies of a Ship Implementation Plan (SIP), specific for each ship. This plan, which is not mandatory, nor subject to the approval of the flag State or classification societies, should include, inter alia, risk assessment and a mitigation plan in relation to the fuel change, changes to the fuel system combustion and possible tank cleaning, information on capacity, segregation and supply of fuel oil, as well as the changeover plan decided for the vessel in question. According to Rule 18.2.3 of Annex VI of MARPOL, the PSC will be able to take into consideration the SIP during the inspection activities aimed at verifying the new limits of sulfur content imposed, without, however, being able to use the same as a basis for detecting ship deficiencies.

It is clear that, together with the above-mentioned technologies, there is also the need to have infrastructures able to support them and to plan an efficient bunkering strategy.

In this sense, the potential of Italian ports, in particular those of Augusta and Civitavecchia, in the supply of low sulfur fuel bunkering could significantly increase, thanks to their decisive position for traffic in the Mediterranean and to the investments that are being made to achieve this goal . Bunker Energy S.p.A. has already started a logistics plan to make the port of Augusta, already today the main Italian petrochemical port, adequately equipped with barges, storage facilities and a terminal capable of ensuring well before 1 January 2020 (possibly within the third semester) of the year) the regular availability and delivery of fuels in compliance with the new regime that will come from a refinery in Northern Italy. Pending the finalization of the new pumps that will avoid any risk of contamination deriving from HSFO, the applicable price structure is being defined. In the same way, the Company has launched a plan also in the Port of Civitavecchia where it expects even higher demand based on the large volume of ferry and cruise ship traffic.

The “consistent implementation” of Regulation 14 of Annex VI stands today as the main challenge for the Member States which, through the work of the subsequent MEPC and the PPR Sub Committee, must, inter alia, investigate the mechanisms for the enforcement of the new limits and verification of the conformity of naval units and fuel suppliers, with the consequent need to introduce specific procedures for checking the fuel in use in addition to those relating to the “Marpol sampling”.

The control measures of the PSC, in fact, will be based mainly on the control of the IAPP Certificate and Bunker Delivery Notes on board. However, in the presence of reasonable grounds, there will then be the possibility of conducting more detailed inspections including sampling.

In case of violation of the limit deriving from the use of non-compliant fuel or from not being able to prove the lack of availability of compliant fuel in the port of bunkering – in this sense we recall the presentation to the flag State of the Fuel Oil Non Availability Report (FONAR), pursuant to Rule 18 of Annex VI – Member States will have to put in place an adequate sanctioning system that will include fines, seizure of the ship and de-bunkering of the same, variable port-in-port measures.

Together with the above-explained IMO regime, it is necessary to remember, for completeness of information, that at European level the Directive 2016/802 is also in force, c.d. Sulfur Directive, a further instrument aimed at reducing sulfur dioxide emissions deriving from the combustion of heavy fuel oil, gas oil, marine gas oil and marine diesel oil used in the EU. It is added to the IMO regulation, establishing stricter limits in EU waters. In fact, a maximum limit of 0.50% m / m of sulfur content in marine fuels is foreseen for ships of any flag present in European waters from 1 January 2020. Furthermore, the limit of 0.1% is established for ships moored in EU ports, unless they remain at berth with the engines turned off and are connected to an electrical ground system or their stop does not exceed two hours.

Finally, we point out that Italy, through the Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of the Territory and the Sea, in agreement with the Ministry of Transport, has made itself the proponent of the Barcelona Convention (1978), of a agreement of a political nature aimed at acquiring the consent of all Mediterranean countries for the creation, possibly by 2024, of a Sulfur Emission Control Area (SECA) in the Mediterranean Sea, characterized by a sulfur emissions limit of 0.10% m / m, even at sea. Also thanks to the solid foundations of the SAFEMED project managed by the European Maritime Safety Agency and aimed at harmonizing maritime legislation in the Mare Nostrum, the MATTM, in particular through the efforts of the Marine Environmental Department of the Harbor Corps Corps, is carrying out important negotiations with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa in order to achieve this ambitious goal.

IMO 2020