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Tuesday, 11 December 18
SHIPPING MARKET ANALYSIS - ALLIED
AlliedA lot of discussions have been made as to the effects of the IMO 2020 regulation on OPEX  levels,  investment  feasibility  of  scrubbers and the benefits of alternative fuel usage. Aside from all of these, there is another reading to this new regulation. New oil products  (ultra-low sulphur fuel oil) as well as  the much larger quantities of MGO that will be needed from the shipping industry will reshape trade  patterns around the globe. The first effect could well be depicted in crude oil trade due to shifts in refinery utilization, said Yiannis Vamvakas, Research Analyst of Allied Shipping in Allied latest weekly research report.
 
Specifically, demand for light sweet crude oil will move upward as it will be required from the non-upgraded refineries, while it is possible to see a negative trend in the demand for heavy sour  grades.  The second part is the need for redistribution of the low-sulphur fuels, in order to properly cover the global bunkering  markets.  
 
Yiannis Vamvakas further noted that, a side-effect to this could well be the requirement for floating storage for both clean (building of inventories),  as well as dirty products (storage of the excess heavy fuel oil produced). Demand for HSFO is projected to recover in the long-term, as scrubber-equipped ships will continue using it. However, given that the IMO  expects  around  3,800 vessels  to be fitted with  scrubbers by 2020,  it looks as though these vessels will remain a relatively small percentage of the global fleet. Many refineries have proceeded with their investment plans, adding capacity in order to produce more middle distillates, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasting that an additional 7 million barrels per day will come into production by 2023. 
 
However,  Yiannis Vamvakas  says, there are also several refineries that have not yet fully prepared for the IMO 2020 regulation,  possible creating a shortfall of the required fuels in certain regions.  All in all, the most modernized refineries with extensive vacuum resid processing capacity will benefit most from the new regulation, as they will be able to produce larger quantities of  required fuels, gaining market share in the marine sector. Based on these facts, demand will increase in regions were the more modern refineries reside, modifying current trade routes. According to a Reuters survey, around 66% of  33 questioned refineries will continue produce HSFO  in 2020,  but 70% of these stated that they will reduce their output. A decline has already been  reported in  fuel oil inventories, depicting the fact that refineries have started to cut output in anticipation of the regulation. However, it’s worth mentioning that if output cuts prove to be bigger than the consumption fall, prices will see a significant upsurge. With regards to different geographical locations, most of the US refineries have been upgraded by the US shale boom, giving them a head start, but they are still dependent on heavy fuel imports, which is used for blending purposes. This means that further investments will be required for adding  de-sulphurisation  capacity.  
 
In Europe,  the report says, the coastal refineries are better prepared compared to their mainland peers, as their main oil source is crude from North and West Africa,  regions with less sour oil.  In Middle East and China,  most of the refineries do not have the capacity of de-sulphurisation needed to produce the new low-sulphur fuels, making new investments necessary. In almost all cases a  significant change is to take place in the shipping industry.  
 
This change can be seen as a threat, an opportunity or as a combination of these two. The modification of crude oil/oil products trade flows should benefit owners and refineries that are flexible and adaptable enough for the new regulations, while it may be a significant threat for market participants that will choose to fall behind their competition Yiannis Vamvakas concluded in his latest report. 


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