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IMO moves forward with ban on vessels carrying high-sulfur fuel

LONDON, April 13 (Reuters) -

* The International Maritime Organization said it approved on Friday an amendment that would ban ships unequipped to strip sulfur from carrying high-sulfur fuel from 2020 - when new sulfur-content limits come into effect

* New 2020 limits cut the amount of sulfur in the fuel that ships worldwide are allowed to use, from 3.5 to 0.5 percent by 2020. However, ships that have installed scrubbers that can remove sulfur as fuel is burned can continue to use higher-sulfur fuel

* The amendment to MARPOL Annex VI approved on Friday would make it illegal for ships without scrubbers to carry fuels above the sulfur limit in their supply systems, but would allow any ship to carry higher sulfur fuels as cargo

* The approval is the second to last step required in order to formalize the ban on carrying fuel oil - which is itself a step aimed at making it easier to enforce the stricter sulfur limits

* The IMO will next have to formally adopt the amendment at the group's meeting in October (Reporting By Jonathan Saul and Libby George Editing by Susan Fenton)