In 2020, change is coming to the industry with new global sulphur limits for bunker fuel as a result of the IMO’s MARPOL Annex VI regulation.
The regulation will see new, lower limits being implemented, affecting over three million barrels per day (mbpd) of residual fuel oil (resid). Uncertainty over whether this change was coming has existed for years; so, the clarity now provided is a relief for many. But what will the key impact of the MARPOL Bunker Fuel Regulation be and what challenges and opportunities could arise from it?
The new regulation will lower global sulphur limits for bunker fuel. From the current 3.5%, when the regulation comes into effect in 2020, this limit will be reduced to 0.5%. The demand for high-sulphur resid for ship bunkers reached 95.4 mbpd of total oil demand in 2016 and so the regulation is likely to have an impact on refiners in regions all over the world, as well as on crude producers, bunker suppliers and shipping lines.
According to an analysis by Concawe, out of approximately 30 million tonnes of bunker fuels that will be consumed in Europe in 2020, only three million tonnes will remain high-sulphur, the rest will be residual fuel with a sulphur content of up to 0.5% (8-13 million tonnes), or marine gas oil (13-19 million tonnes).
For the MARPOL Bunker Fuel Regulation to have any real impact, enforcement of breaches of its requirements is going to have to be strict. Risk-free non-compliance as a result of inadequate detection methods, few sanctions and a lack of robust legal framework is a serious cause for concern. Currently, no global entity is responsible for enforcement, or sanctions, as these are made locally and could differ significantly from one location to the next, making consistent and effective enforcement a real challenge.
As a leading independent consulting company focused on the refining industry, Euro Petroleum Consultants (EPC) pays close attention to the discussions that accompany the enforcement of these regulations.
Stefan Chapman, vice president, Euro Petroleum Consultants, says: “With 2020 just around the corner meeting the new IMO requirement is a big challenge for both the refining and shipping industries.For refiners, it is already late in the day for any important residue upgrading investments not already in the works to come on stream by 2020. So, what are the alternative solutions and what will happen to the high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) currently being produced by refiners for bunker fuel?”
With this in mind, on 17 January 2019 in London, Euro Petroleum Consultants is hosting a unique event ‘IMO 2020: Are you ready? Debate with the specialist’, which will gather refiners, ship owners, traders, regulators and solution providers all in one place.
Speakers from companies such as International Maritime Organisation, Essar Oil UK, Wood Mackenzie, Carnival Corporation, UK Chamber of Shipping, Port of Rotterdam, Honeywell UOP and Wood, amongst others, will discuss and debate with delegates, sharing knowledge and insights into how IMO 2020 sulphur regulation will shape the bunker fuels market and affect the industry as a whole, along with valuable networking opportunities. This important event will provide an unrivalled opportunity to gain valuable information on this vital topic.
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