ICS' Poulsson keen to engage oil companies on low sulphur fuel availability in 2020

With the majority of shipowners set to use low sulphur fuel oil to comply with the IMO's 2020 0.5% sulphur cap for marine fuel International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) chairman Esben Poulsson.

“The industry understands and the IMO secretary general has made it very clear there will be no postponement of this legislation despite there are some serious challenges,” Poulsson said at the opening press conference for SMM 2018 in Hamburg.

“Nothing of this scale has been attempted before, you're going to have a situation on 1 January (2020) when overnight ships are going to have to burn low sulphur fuel, fit scrubbers or other alternatives. There a number of technical challenges and difficulties to overcome by that time. But I believe we will get there as our industry has proved time and again its very adaptable.”

A particular area of concern for ICS is the availability, and related to that the price of low sulphur fuel will be once the new legislation is implemented as most owners will be relying on low sulhur fuel to comply with the legislation.

“What it means is we have to deal with it, for some people it will be fitting scrubbers, but for some vessels such as a 30,000 dwt bulk carrier you cannot install a scrubber, so they will have to pay whatever the prevailing market rate is,” he said.

Seatrade Maritime News is reporting live from SMM 2018

While ICS is predicting a higher price environment what level this will be remains uncertain and Poulsson highlighted the lack of concrete information on supply.

“I think the worry is supply, we've tried very hard to engage with the oil companies and the party line from the oil companies is if you want it we will have it. To me this sounds rather simplistic as the fact of the matter is refineries have to be converted massively to meet the demand for this product and I don't have any facts and figures to know if this happening or not,” he explained.

“I would really like to engage more with the oil companies and find out more where they are with this.” Poullson added that the roundtable of shipping organisations comprising ICS, Intertanko, Intercargo was also keen to engage will oil companies on the supply of low sulphur fuel oil.

Quizzed on a forecast made by Christian Lelong, Goldman Sachs at an ABS seminar on Monday that there would be no issue in terms of low sulphur fuel as power plants fitting with scrubbers would be able to switch to burning high sulphur fuel oil Poullsson said that if that was correct “it would be great” but he did not have that information himself.

Posted 04 September 2018

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Marcus Hand

Editor, Seatrade Maritime News