Bunker Industry Uncertain Over Response to Sulfur Cap

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As fuel oil for vessels with scrubbers fitted will be more of a niche market from 2020 onwards, some smaller ports may not bother to keep regular supplies of it, she said — or the lack of competition among suppliers may lead to higher prices.

Shipowners are likely to wait as long as possible to take a decision about the sulfur cap, Einemo said.

“You’re looking at virtually an overnight switch,” she added. “That’s pretty problematic, this is not as easy as flicking a switch.”

More uncertainty is being added by the lack of a concrete enforcement system worldwide for the IMO’s sulfur cap. Eirik Nyhus, director of environment and regulatory affairs at certification body DNV GL, said that outside of North America, the EU, Australia and New Zealand there may be little in the way of reliable enforcement regimes.

“Nothing’s going to happen ahead of 2020,” he said about enforcement measures. “We’ll have some early movers, but nothing from the rest of the world.”

“We are establishing a system where it pays to cheat,” he added. “That’s going to be an increasing problem unless we address it.”

In the high seas enforcement of the sulfur cap will be the responsibility of the state to which each vessel is registered, and so far there have been no signs that governments are looking to impose strict enforcement regimes outside of their own territorial waters.

The potential for non-compliance, along with shipowners’ reluctance to take a decision on how they will cope with the tighter global sulfur cap, has left some in the bunker industry complacent about the changes coming in 2020, according to John Stirling, quality manager at World Fuel Services.

“Some people are still saying that 2020 isn’t real,” he told the conference. “It is — we need to get our heads around that.”

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Source: Platts

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