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Wednesday, 18 December 19
SHIPPING MARKET INSIGHT - INTERMODAL
IntermodalAs we all know very well by now, the reduction in the maximum allowable sulphur content of marine fuels in 2020 is likely to have a massive impact for many in the industry. Shipowners will need to make tough decisions on how their vessels will comply with the new limit, charterers who buy fuel will need to know how it will economically affect them and seafarers will have the ultimate challenge of ensuring vessels continue to run safely and efficiently.
 
There are several options on how to comply with the sulphur cap. As well as the various fuel choices on offer, there are abatement technologies such as scrubbers  EGCS (Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems). A shipowner’s choice will depend on a number of factors and influencing the decision will be the inevitable gamble on what the availability and price of fuel will be post-2020. What will be certain is that there will be economic and commercial impacts.
 
Of course  even shipowners in the offshore and deep sea oceangoing towage markets will also face similar concerns. Despite the fact that a large portion of the market was already burning distillates, the oceangoing long distance range tugs will face some very difficult economics and important decisions to make on how to comply with these stringent requirements. First class operators are also in certain cases not keen that the VLSMGO fuels are compatible and safe to use in particular tug engines.  In general, there are several options available to a shipowner that will allow compliance with the 2020 global sulphur cap. There are pros and cons with each, as discussed extensively during 2019. Mostly concerning fuel availability, on-board fuel management, capital and operational expenditure as well as maintenance requirements. It is not a simple choice and the decision on what method of compliance is best depends on a number of factors, such as vessel type, trading area and remaining service life. The proportion of time spent within emission control areas (ECA) should be also considered together with the impact of changing over fuels when entering/leaving these areas. The 0.1% sulphur cap currently in operation within the ECAs will remain in force and it is possible that new ECAs may emerge in the coming years. For some vessels in particular, the best solution might be multi-fuel, such as having the ability to burn LNG or distillates, depending on the availability of each. 
 
A number of producers have developed or are developing compliant products which are heavier than MGO and MDO but lighter than the residual fuel oils that are currently used. Some are specially-produced products and are commonly referred to as ‘hybrid’ fuels. Other products are the result of blending, producing a heavy distillate or light residual blend. It may be possible that a 0.5%S residual fuel (e.g. 380cst) could be produced from either refining sweet crudes or from sour crudes undergoing a desulphurization process. But there are currently no plans to make this widely available as a marine fuel.
 
In any case it is clear that the new landscape will take shape and form during the entire first semester of 2019. The first quarter of 2020 will indicate the new trends and the new overall status in the market, but I believe it will take at least 6 months or more till we get to understand the real new dynamics and status of options.
By Christopher Whitty
Director, Towage and Port Agency Division
 
Compiled by:
Intermodal Research & Valuations


Analysts:
Ms Eva Tzima

Mr.George Panagopoulos


Disclaimer and legal disclosure: For any further queries please do not hesitate to contact our Research & Valuations Department. The information contained in this report has been obtained from various sources, as reported in the market. Intermodal Shipbrokers Co. believes such information to be factual and reliable without making guarantees regarding its accuracy or completeness. Whilst every care has been taken in the production of the above review, no liability can be accepted for any loss or damage incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may seek to rely on the information and views contained in this material. This report is being produced for the internal use of the intended recipients only and no reproducing is allowed, without the prior written authorization of Intermodal Shipbrokers Co.
 
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