From 1 September 2021, shipowners and operators calling at ports in Sierra Leone risk penalties of up to USD 15,000 if they carry fuel with a sulphur content exceeding 0.5 per cent, according to international shipping association BIMCO.
The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) global sulphur cap came into force on January 1, 2020 and requires ships to use fuel with less than 0.5 per cent sulphur or use an abatement system (scrubber) to reduce sulphur emissions. Ships arriving at ports in Sierra Leone carrying fuel with a higher than 0.5 per cent sulphur content will have to pay the service charge, even if installed with a scrubber. Tariffs and fines are subject to periodic reviews based on prevailing circumstances.
The Sierra Leone Ports Authority, in consultation with the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, consented to implement this important international member state mandate in July 2021.
BIMCO says that it is important to note that Sierra Leone is 18 months behind the global mandate to implement the IMO 2020 statutory instrument. In view of the above, the Sierra Leone Ports Authority will serve as the consulting government agency to implement IMO 2020. Furthermore, the Port Authority will undertake a joint implementation of the regulation, together with a competent institution for efficiency and standardisation.
The Port of Freetown in Sierra Leone will extend a grace period spanning from 15 July 2021 to 31 August 2021 for vessels that are non-compliant. Penalties will not be instituted against defaulting or non-compliant vessels on or before 31 August 2021. However, a non-compliance report together with a warning letter will be issued to non-compliant vessels for corrective action to be taken prior their next call at the port and within this grace period as stipulated above, BIMCO confirmed.
BIMCO reports that the Port Authority will take appropriate measures to ensure compliance by initial inspections based on documents and other methods, including remote sensing and portable devices. If there are clear grounds to conduct a more detailed inspection, sample analyses and other detailed inspections may be undertaken. The samples to be analysed may be the representative samples provided with the Bunker Delivery Note.