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Panama Canal reminds shipping industry IMO 2020 is just around the corner

On November 6 this year, the Autoridad del Canal de Panama sent a reminder to all shipping agents, owners, and operators concerning Fuel Requirements in the Panama Canal.

Advisory to shipping No. A-39-2019 has been issued because the upcoming international sulphur cap for marine fuels (IMO 2020), which will go into effect January 1, 2020, has prompted numerous inquiries to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) regarding the types of fuels that will be permitted while in Panama Canal waters.

As a result, the following information is provided as a summarized guide of the fuels and arrangements suitable for anchoring, transiting, and docking at terminals in Panama Canal waters.

The current mandate to switch to marine distillate fuel as published in NT Notice To Shipping No. N-1-2019 “Vessel Requirements” is maintained. All vessels proceeding to Panama Canal waters for transit shall switch from residual fuel to marine distillate fuel prior to arriving at Panama Canal waters. However, these requirements allow for cases whereby vessels may supplement or replace marine distillate fuels with LNG fuel, biofuels, closed loop scrubbers, and ULSFO & VLSFO not exceeding a viscosity of 70 centistokes @ 50°C.

Some exceptions will still apply to the requirement to switch to marine distillate fuel. Vessels making only a local port call and not transiting will not be required to switch to marine distillate fuel. Additionally, vessels anchoring prior to transit will be permitted to use residual fuel for their auxiliary generator engines, boilers, and other ancillary equipment while at the Pacific and Atlantic Anchorages, only if they are capable of maintaining their main propulsion engines simultaneously on marine distillate fuel.

In order to preserve the quality of its waters, especially freshwater reservoirs, the ACP prohibits the use of open loop scrubbers. Similarly, closed loop scrubbers and hybrid scrubbers in a closed loop mode shall retain all effluents on board.

Further inquiries on the subject matter should be directed to .  Photo ACP