Scrub 2020 away: How the shipping industry is holding up after one year of IMO 2020

The shipping industry has experienced one heck of year since IMO 2020 took effect. Looking back, it is reasonable to state that ocean shippers were focused solely on ensuring compliance was achieved to meet the new standards in combating the emissions footprint. Outlined in our article from last year, the issue of cleaning bunker fuels for the first time paired with the contractual challenges presented by the regulation posed new sets of challenges to be met – and quickly.

Fast-forward to mid-2020 and shippers found themselves in a completely overturned economic situation due to the pandemic. Capacity restraints, shutdowns, cost fluctuations were beyond what any industry could have predicted for 2020.

Especially considering the impact of the pandemic was not truly felt for shippers until mid-March. It was then that IMO 2020 compliance quickly became a backburner concern, due in part to proactive preparations in meeting regulations and identifying how the industry would overcome the new disruption.

This “new normal” forced changes in forecasting and management on a new level. Global Trade Magazine talked with Carmen Gerace, BDP's Chief Transportation Officer about the state of the ocean shipping sector and how IMO 2020 in conjunction with the pandemic shifted operations. 

“Most of our clients, at this stage, have really done a superb job at meeting compliance standards for IMO 2020 and reducing the carbon footprint. Interestingly enough, IMO 2020 got pushed back mid-March at the onset of the pandemic with everything shutting down.

Our clients had a year to prepare for IMO 2020 and they prepared well and were ready to go. Places like Freight 4 did not contribute to the current chaos of the ocean situation we have today. Industry players were prepared and ready, then everything else hit, and it went from there. That's where we sit today.”

This article appears in Global Trade Magazine's January/February 2021 digital edition.

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