Can the Marine Industry Embrace Upcoming “Paradigm Shift” in Bunker Sector?



We did say it before – The Oil is so cheap that even pirates do not steal them anymore.  No wonder, the world is speculating on whether the oil prices would go high or remain at rock bottom – and the internet is flooded with news, analysis, and insights.

MFAME has also published some in the past and in fact we did mention to forget about the oil price and reminded about the skyrocketing coffee price.

The past decades witnessed new technologies which emerged to reduce the bunker fuel consumption as the fuel prices contributed to almost 60% of a ship’s operating cost.  Now, the fuel prices are so low that the operators are not interested in investing in anything which saves fuel and thus the operating cost.  But, here buds the new challenge – Climate, Carbon footprint, and the energy efficiency.  The bunker prices are cheap, the fuel quality is bad – nevertheless, IMO recommends every vessel to reduce the emission and thus the carbon footprint.

What can be anticipated in the coming times?

A committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), meeting in October, will consider the findings of a study into the availability of low-sulphur bunkers.  Once it has completed its deliberations, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) will recommend whether 2020 or 2025 should be the date the world’s merchant fleet switches to fuels with a sulphur content of no more than 0.5%.

Whether the cap is implemented in four or nine years – although the majority of opinion formers believe 2020 will be enforced – shipping companies will be required to face a complete overhaul of their bunker strategies.

Once the current 3.5% sulphur limit is replaced, intermediate fuel oil (IFO), the mainstay of the bunker industry and the fuel of choice for the bulk of the world fleet, will cease to be compliant with international standards.

Can the Marine Industry embrace a “Paradigm Shift” in Bunker Industry?

The New Paradigms:

  1. Usage of low sulphur or distillate fuels
  2. LNG as fuel
  3. Mass Flow Meters
  4. Hybrid fuels
  5. ISO 8217:2016 draft – Viswa Lab’s experts have been raising objections on the Lopsided new fuel quality standards
  6. Biofuels
  7. Installation of scrubbers to continue burning high sulphur fuels.

A Ship Manager may have to face a challenging task of convincing the ship owners about a particular technology that benefits their ship and suggest an appropriate vendor for the same.  He should also work on the economies of introducing such new technology and return on investment period since its induction into the fleet to the ship owners.  Though the key decision and choice of compliance are on the ship owner’s court, it is essential for the ship managers to go a step further and help them decide on strategies to minimize the operating cost.  When such is the case with fuel problems, Viswa Lab do extend its arms in reaching out to shipowners via Ship Managers, to explain the benefits of enhanced testing.

Not to forget, the problems in using marine fuels are constantly increasing day by day.  The main engine damage is on the high amounting to majority of the claims says P&I clubs.  Therefore, may be it’s time that shipping industry  gears up  to embrace the upcoming ‘Paradigm Shift’ in the bunker fuel industry.


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