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IMO makes progress on methanol

Its CCC5 sub-committee completes drafting of interim guidelines for formal approval by the Maritime Safety Committee in 2020

IMO’s sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC5) has prepared draft interim guidelines covering the safety of ships using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel. This is a move towards including methanol in the International Code of Safety for Ship Using Gases or Other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), which currently has provisions focusing on the use of LNG.

The draft guidelines, which were agreed at the end of the sub-committee’s most recent annual meeting, completes the work undertaken by the Correspondence Group on Development of Technical Provisions for the Safety of Ships using Low-flashpoint Fuels and are designed to provide for the safe design and operation of ships using methyl/ethyl alcohol as fuel.


CCC5 invited the 100th meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee in December to endorse the referral of safety topics which require further input to other technical sub-committees for their consideration with feedback to CCC6 in September 2019.
Interim guidelines should be ready for formal approval by MSC in the first half of 2020.


“This work was the culmination of a huge amount of effort by multiple stakeholders and industry participants who contributed to both the correspondence and working groups’ efforts over the past several years,” said Chris Chatterton, Chief Operating Officer of the Methanol Institute. “We would like to thank in particular the IBIA for allowing us to contribute to this effort as well as to the various flag state members and NGOs for their respective contributions.”


The Methanol Institute points out that the fuel is already safely in use as a marine fuel onboard seven tankers operated by Waterfront Shipping and the ropax ferry Stena Germanica. Multiple test bed and pilot projects have also confirmed Methanol’s viability as a marine fuel.


The ultimate goal is to add a new chapter on methyl/ethyl alcohol to the IGF Code. CCC5 agreed that draft interim guidelines should be finalised urgently, with a commitment to add new section to the IGF Code as soon as possible.


“The maritime industry faces significant challenges in terms of meeting 2020 emissions standards and the longer term goal of the IMO’s targets for greenhouse gas reduction,” added Chatterton. “Methanol is compliant with 2020 and provides a pathway to achieving carbon emission targets.


These guidelines and ultimately its inclusion in the IGF Code are a further milestone to achieving a cleaner, more sustainable maritime industry.”


The agreement is another step forward for methanol as a viable and credible marine fuel. In July this year the IMO invited the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to develop a standard for methyl/ethyl alcohol
as a marine fuel and a standard for methyl/ethyl alcohol fuel couplings.

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