Technical Circular No: 75/2020

Subject: IMO Circular on Guidelines for onboard sampling for the verification of the sulphur content of the Fuel Oil used onboard ships

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  1. The International Maritime Organization, in order to facilitate the need for taking ‘in-use samples’ has approved Circular – MEPC.1/Circ.864\Rev.1 providing guidelines for onboard sampling for the verification of the sulphur content of the fuel oil used onboard ships.

  2. The guidelines provides requirements for sampling locations and sample handling to enable effective control and enforcement of fuel oil being used on board ships under the provisions of MARPOL Annex VI.

  3. Under these guidelines, the in-use representative sample or samples should be obtained from a designated sampling point or points. Fuel oil sampling points to be used should fulfil all of the following conditions:

    1. be easily and safely accessible;

    2. take into account different fuel oil grades being used for the fuel oil combustion machinery item;

    3. be downstream of the in-use fuel oil service tank;

    4. be as close to the fuel oil combustion machinery as safely feasible taking into account the type of fuel oil, flow-rate, temperature, and pressure behind the selected sampling point;

    5. be clearly marked for easy identification and described in either the piping diagram or other relevant documents;

    6. each sampling point should be located in a position shielded from any heated surface or electrical equipment and the shielding device or construction should be sturdy enough to endure leaks, splashes or spray under design pressure of the fuel oil supply line so as to preclude impingement of fuel oil onto such surface or equipment; and

    7. the sampling arrangement should be provided with suitable drainage to the drain tank or other safe location.

  4. The guidelines provides following in respect of  the fuel oil sample handling;

    1. Samples should be taken when a steady flow is established in the fuel oil circulating system.

    2. The sampling connection should be thoroughly flushed through with the fuel oil in use prior to drawing the sample.

    3. The sample or samples should be collected in a sampling container or containers and should be representative of the fuel oil being used.

    4. The sample bottles should be sealed by the inspector with a unique means of identification installed in the presence of the ship's representative. The ship should be given the option of retaining a sample.

    5. The label should include the following information:

      • sampling point location where the sample was drawn;

      • date and port of sampling;

      • name and IMO number of the ship;

      • details of seal identification; and

      • signatures and names of the inspector and the ship's representative.

  5. Owners/ Operators and masters are advised to be guided by above and review their fuel oil sampling procedures to ensure that samples can be drawn safely from the ship’s fuel service system. It is also imperative that the ship’s crew are aware of the above-mentioned requirements and familiarized with the ship-specific system.



This Technical Circular and the material contained in it is provided only for the purpose of supplying current information to the reader and not as an advice to be relied upon by any person. While we have taken utmost care to be as factual as possible, readers/ users are advised to verify the exact text and content of the Regulation from the original source/ issuing Authority.

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