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It is little surprise to learn from scrubber manufacturer Yara Marine Technologies ceo Peter Strandberg that “business is fantastic” at the moment given the rush ahead of IMO 2020, but he also believes the product has a more long term future in the marine sphere.

With just a small percentage of ships fitting scrubbers owners are warned they will need secure availability of high sulphur fuel oil (HFO) in 2020 as the supply chain will be geared to delivering compliant low sulphur fuel oil (LFSO).

Scorpio Bulkers, which along with sister company Scorpio Tankers, has taken a major bet on scrubbers to comply with the IMO’s 2020 low sulphur regulations is assuming a price spread of $250 per tonne between high and low sulphur fuel once the limit is in force.

The scale of the challenge facing ship operators as they prepare bunker tanks for new low-sulphur fuels ahead of the IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap may have been underestimated, according to some marine fuel experts.

Dry bulk vessels fitted with scrubbers will command a significant premium when the 0.5% sulphur cap comes into force on 1 January 2020, believes Maritime Strategies International (MSI) analyst Will Fray.

Analysts at investment bank Morgan Stanley have predicted that crude oil prices could spiral to $90 a barrel by 2020 as the IMO’s 0.5% sulphur cap boosts demand from ship operators for more refined products.

Maersk Line owned Hamburg Süd and customer Electrolux are teaming up to reduce sulphur dioxide (SOx) emissions in Latin America ports.

As the debate over future fuel choices rages on naval architect and marine engineering firm Foreship believes owners will turn back to high sulphur heavy fuel oil by 2030 with 30% of owners opting for scrubbers.

In a seminar entitled “Future of Marine Fuels by 2020/25” ExxonMobil noted that despite much excitement over LNG-fuelled vessels, no one fuel stood out as an obvious panacea for shipowners following the introduction of the worldwide 0.5% sulphur cap.

The Glycerine Fuel for Engines and Marine Sustainability (GLEAMS) project has concluded that bio-diesel by-product glycerine is a viable alternative ship fuel.

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