INTERNATIONAL Chamber of Shipping secretary-general Guy Platten says the issue of safety must not be overlooked as industry hurries to prepare for new fuel regulations from 2020.

From 1 January 2020, all ships will be required to use fuel which contains a maximum of 0.5% m/m sulphur, as agreed by the International Maritime Organization two years ago.

Mr Platten spoke in Melbourne at the Focus on Energy forum, an event organised by Maritime Industry Australia and held at the premises of law firm HfW.

The secretary-general indicated support for laws aimed at cutting sulphur from maritime fuel but there were also areas of concern.

“What really concerns us are the safety issues, the compatibility of fuels. That really is a big issue for us now,” he said.

“We’re promised that the (new) fuel will be available but we’ll have to wait and see.

“We have known of difficulties with engines stopping and seizing and all sorts of things over the last few months.

“That will be not good at all if we get to 2020 and we start having multiple incidents like that.”

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Mr Platten noted the health benefits for coastal communities of lower sulphur emissions, but also said there had to be “a level playing field” in terms of port state control.

“So people know that they are going to have to comply, there’s not going to be some ‘soft touch’ anywhere,” he said.

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