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Shipowners should consider distillate fuels to comply with IMO 2020: ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil is stressing that residual 0.5% low sulphur fuels are not the only way to comply with IMO 2020 and that distillates will also form a significant part of the fuel mix.

ExxonMobil has already announced its range of compliant 0.5% low sulphur fuels and ports where they will be available from Q3 this year. On Tuesday the oil and gas company announced a multi-billion dollar expansion of its Singapore integrated production complex which will include increased production of distillates.

Read more: ExxonMobil confirms multi-billion Singapore expansion, underscores commitment to marine customers

Speaking to Seatrade Maritime News, Luca Volta, marine fuels venture manager, marine fuels and lubricants for ExxonMobil, said, “I think it’s important for the marine industry and ship owners to consider that 0.50% residual fuels are one of the means to comply, there are other means of compliance.

“Distillates, ranging from 0.50% to 0.10%, are one of those other means of compliance and our distillates are available at a number of locations around the world as the industry will need both: residual fuels and distillate fuels - both compliant.”

Volta reveals that the oil and gas company’s marine customers are not placing all their eggs in one basket when it comes to compliance with IMO 2020.

“Every single discussion I have with my customers and clients are that there are at least two forms of compliant fuels, residual and distillates, 0.50% and 0.10%, as well as some customers who have opted for scrubbers, using HFO.”

Read more: ExxonMobil seeks to reassure shipowners on 2020 compliant low sulphur fuels

In terms of how the choice is made this involves a number of factors including, availability of product at different locations, compatibility, trading areas including ECA zones, the training of the crew and tank arrangements.

Distillate fuels form around 30% of the marine fuel demand, which totals 5m barrels per day. When it comes to scrubbers around 5% of the fleet by number of ships, 10% by tonnage are fitting exhausting gas cleaning systems.

While the preparedness of the industry for 1 January 2020 has been a cause for concern Volta says a lot of work is being done by shipowners relates a recent experience meeting a customer.

“I was in front of the customer and there was their IMO 2020 team - the fleet manager, planning department – it was probably a room of 10 or 12 people. To me that was an indication of the level of depth of preparedness they had gone to, and that preparedness for IMO 2020 is not just about the bunker team. It goes back to something I always say that industry needs to switch their approach from fuel procurement to fuel management,” he explained.

“I would say a high amount effort has gone into preparedness, and like in all walks of life there will be people who are prepared and ready to deploy (and there are many), and then there are going to be laggards. Today I see a lot of people who are leaders and a lot less people who are laggards,” Volta concluded.

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