With a number of fuel quality issues seen this year at Houston, Rotterdam and Singapore even before the implementation of the IMO’s sulfur cap, demand for fuel testing and sampling, and therefore bunker surveying services, is expected to increase going into 2020, says, Royal Marine Group’s director Daljit Singh Pandher in an interview with S&P Global Platts.
“Sampling is an important part of the bunkering and surveying process. The importance of a properly-drawn and witnessed representative bunker fuel oil sample cannot be over-emphasized,” Pandher said.
Less margin for shippers
As freight rates have remained flat while bunker fuel prices have risen significantly over the past two years, shipowners struggling with increased operating costs might decide that laying up their vessels is better, he added.
For Pandher, IMO’s 2020 deadline to cut sulfur in marine fuels from 3.5% currently is an aggressive target.
However, the part that worries Pandher is blending residual fuel down to 0.5% sulfur as “it is not an exact science when it comes to certifying the levels of blending” and could pose a number of problems, especially compatibility and stability.
Leaning towards scrubbers
But the International Maritime Organization’s move to cut sulfur in marine fuels to 0.5% in 2020 could increase demand for bunker surveyors in the city-port, and possibly at ports around the world, adds Pandher.
With remote navigation audits, Pandher’s team of master mariners can remotely analyze the performance of the bridge team and the effectiveness of instruments used during a critical passage. This remote audit can be used to identify the areas where the team is lacking, he said.
“After doing audits on multiple ships for a company, you see a trend. We then advise our clients where training is needed,” Pandher said.
“We’re also seeing an uptick in interest to install scrubbers. Freight rates have not risen has fast as bunker prices, and some owners are considering scrubbers as these can be amortized,” he added.
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