Sulphur 2020 News Round Up: 12 January – 24 January 2020


Don’t mess with Chinese inspectors on the sulphur cap

China’s inspectors appear hard working and keen to showcase their efforts on clamping down on sulphur cap violations while few cases have been reported elsewhere. The Chinese inspectors are obviously very diligent and appear keen to showcase their efforts, as few infringements have been noted elsewhere.

One common feature in these found cases is a rather small excess sulphur content, ranging from 0.546% to 0.68%, suggesting none of the involved the vessels were using high-sulphur fuel oil at the time. Causes were said by officials to have been improper blending of the fuels or an incomplete switch to compliant fuels. The Xiamen Maritime Safety Administration offered the most detailed explanation in its case detected on January 3.  (Subscription)

IMO facing call to adopt HFO ban in Arctic

A delay on heavy fuel oil use in the Arctic Sea edges closer with widespread support. But a proposal for a five-year delay divides governments and NGOs. Russia also continues to have concerns about the large financial implications it believes the ban will have.

US will adapt ‘magic pipe’ recipe to new IMO rule violations

The draconian attitude of the US authorities is likely to take some ship operators by surprise. Whistleblowers are expected to play a very important role in the new cases. Many shipowners are said to be insufficiently aware of the expanded potential for criminal prosecutions in the US in cases of non-compliance with the new low-sulphur requirements.


Hapag-Lloyd follows Maersk: Increases bunker surcharge

Yet another of the world’s biggest container shipping companies now introduces an extraordinary bunker surcharge following recent weeks’ large price increases on low-sulfur fuels. This time it is German Hapag-Lloyd, ShippingWatch learns.

Poor low-sulfur bunker found in several key ports

Veritas Petroleum Service, which tests fuel, has issued seven warnings in just one month about excessive sediments in new fuels with 0.5 percent sulfur. (Subscription)


Two vessels caught in China for IMO 2020 violations

The Chinese authorities have caught two vessels for low sulphur fuel violations, the first reported cases of breaches of IMO 2020.

The Standard Club said that the first vessel was in Qingdao when it underwent a Port State Control (PSC) inspection by the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) and was found to be using fuel with a sulphur content of 0.6777% mm. The second vessel was in Xiamen and found by the MSA to be using non-compliant fuel having been at a berth for six days after changing to compliant fuel.


Navigating Sulphur 2020

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has praised the implementation of the 0.5 percent sulphur cap on marine fuel, claiming that, so far, the transition has been “relatively smooth”, although charter party disputes are expected to emerge soon.

After rising significantly at the beginning of the year – when the official implementation deadline of the sulphur cap came into force – prices for very-low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) and marine gas oil (MGO) appear to be stabilising, said the IMO.

Further still, as of January 20, only ten cases of compliant fuel being unavailable had been reported in IMO’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS); and the dedicated email address established by the IMO secretariat has not received any specific correspondence reporting issues with implementation.


BIMCO: Low-sulphur fuel sale jumps to a 70% share in Singapore, as the IMO 2020 sulphur cap kicks in

The final quarter of 2019 marked a massive decline of HSFO sales, as the industry transitioned into compliance of the IMO 2020 Sulphur Cap (IMO2020). In Singapore, the world’s largest bunkering hub, the bunker sale landscape saw significant change as the sale of high-sulphur fuel oil dropped tremendously in a matter of months. In contrast, the sale of low-sulphur fuels skyrocketed in the final quarter.

In Singapore, the world’s largest bunkering hub, the bunker sale landscape saw significant change as the sale of high-sulphur fuel oil dropped tremendously in a matter of months. In contrast, the sale of low-sulphur fuels skyrocketed in the final quarter.


High black carbon emissions from VLSFO heaps pressure on IMO

Following on from a landmark study funded by the German Environment Agency that suggests some blends of the new very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) contain higher black carbon emissions than its forebear, high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is coming under pressure to ban the new fuel in Arctic waters.

“New hybrid fuels with 0.50% sulphur content used in the study contained a high proportion of aromatic compounds in a range of 70% to 95%, which resulted in increased [black carbon] emissions in a range of 10% to 85% compared to HFO,” the German study sent to the IMO claimed. The higher emissions were most noticeable when the engine was running at less than full capacity.

In the wake of the submission, which was supported by Finland, a number of NGOs are demanding the IMO takes swift action. The Clean Arctic Alliance has today called for the IMO to support an immediate switch to distillate fuels for ships in the Arctic and develop a global rule prohibiting fuels with high black carbon emissions.


Since Jan. 1, the global limit on the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil has been reduced to 0.5% from 3.5% under the so-called IMO 2020 regulation.

This is significantly reducing the amount of sulphur oxide emissions from ships and will have major health and environmental benefits, particularly for people living close to ports and coasts. According to the International Maritime Organization, it has been a relatively smooth transition to the 0.5% cap.


Ensuring your diesel engines are ready for IMO 2020

Vessel owners and operators need to develop a ‘bunker checklist’ and careful maintenance practices to ensure their diesel engines are ready for the changes required by the IMO 2020 sulphur cap.


GLOBAL: Clean Arctic Alliance calls for ban on ships burning ‘super pollutant’ VLSFO in the Arctic

As the debate over whether the switch to very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) will actually increase shipping’s emissions of ‘Black Carbon’ continues, the environmental lobby group Clean Arctic Alliance has today (27 January) called on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ‘support an immediate switch to distillate fuels for ships in the Arctic and develop a global rule prohibiting fuels with high Black Carbon emissions’.

Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, commented: ‘If immediate action isn’t taken by the International Maritime Organization, the shipping industry’s use of VLSFO – introduced to comply with the 2020 sulphur cap – will lead to a massive increase in Black Carbon emissions, and this will both accelerate the melting of Arctic sea ice and have a major impact on Earth’s climate.’


FEATURE: The Growing Problem of IMO 2020 VLSFO Bunkers With Marginally Off-Spec Sulfur

One of the main problems shipping has had with the new 0.50% sulfur bunker fuels so far this year has been arguments over the one characteristic of them that everyone’s supposed to agree about: their sulfur content. 0.50% does not always mean 0.50%.

Standard commercial terms taking the ISO 8217 specifications as their guide allow for a 95% confidence limit on the sulfur content – meaning in practice, any fuel tested after purchase by the buyer at up to 0.53% should still be commercially acceptable.

News update: 2 January 2020

Here is the first news update of 2020 and marks the introduction of the IMO’s global Sulphur cap. Below you will find a number of stories related to the 2020 sulphur cap and its affects on the global shipping and international trade.

Lloyd’s List
US amends rules to allow sale of 0.5% sulphur marine fuel. US OIL refineries will be allowed to distribute and sell shipowners marine fuels with a sulphur content of up to 0.5% instead of only 0.1% after a change in regulations by the country’s energy regulators.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced a ‘technical correction’ to the diesel fuel regulations to allow fuel suppliers to distribute distillate diesel fuel that complies with the IMO 2020 0.5% standard. Before the change, refiners could sell only fuel with a sulphur content of 0.1% or lower. More (Subscription)

Marine Link
China Stocks up on VLSFO Ahead of IMO2020 Deadline
Chinese marine fuel suppliers have signed up short-term deals to buy very low-sulphur fuel oil from companies like oil major Shell, Germany’s Uniper and U.S. commodities trader Freepoint ahead of a new standard on emissions for the global shipping industry that kicks in on Jan. 1. More 

‘Standard’ survey reveals non-standard approach to IMO 2020
With IMO’s sulphur cap now just days away, what can shipowners and operators expect when their vessels arrive in different port state jurisdictions? Will compliant fuel be available and will there be a uniform approach to dealing with violations?
-This short survey reveals some interesting results about the global approach to the new low sulphur fuel cap. More

Lloyd’s Register issues alert over Singapore low sulphur fuels
Testing company says some bunkers may have excessive sediment.
Lloyd’s Register has issued is warning to shipowners and operators that some of the very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) on sale in Singapore has shown sediment levels above the ISO standard. More (Subscription)

High sediment reported in IMO 2020-fuel blends
Recent industry studies show test samples of 0.5%-sulphur fuel products can often contain high sediment, which risks clogging in ship engines. This follows on from the pre-Christmas alert concerning some VLSFO on sale in Singapore. More   (Subscription)

Infomarine 0n-line
Possible fuel contamination at Port of Fujairah
The tested TAN values were all significantly over the average for the port (0.17mgKOH/g), with some even surpassing the maximum 2.5 mgKOH/g specification limit as stipulated in ISO 8217:2017. Past experience has shown that some of these components have been linked with severe operational problems, particularly around filters, fuel injection pumps and fuel injectors.

Latin America sees limited supply, rising prices for IMO-compliant bunkers
With just hours until the official implementation of the IMO 2020 sulfur cap, Latin America continues to see tight supply and rising prices for fuel compliant with the landmark rule.
More  (Subscription)

Singapore to be short of LSFO in 2020 until China starts to export
“It is impossible for Singapore to get 6 million mt a month of LSFO,” a fuel oil trader said.
More  (Subscription)

India’s BPCL starts VLSFO delivery ahead of IMO 2020
The fuel has a sulfur content of 0.44% and a viscosity of 336 CST.
More  (Subscription)

Ship & Bunker
IMO2020: BIMCO Warns Over Blending Remaining HSFO Onboard Instead of Debunkering
Ships looking to blend any remaining HSFO onboard after the 0.05% sulfur cap comes into force, rather than debunkering it, could face running into compliance problems.

Tanker Shipping & Trade
How IMO 2020 will benefit the product tanker fleet
While IMO 2020 is expected to bring great benefits to the product tanker market, the geopolitical situation yet could dampen its impact. It is generally expected that something momentous will happen in the product tanker market in 2020, due to the need to ship large quantities of low-sulphur fuel, marine diesel oil and/or blended fuels from refinery to port.

Ship & Bunker
Iran Says Shipping Fleet Will Struggle to be IMO2020 Compliant
Iran’s shipping fleet will not be able to comply with the upcoming IMO2020 global sulfur cap when the new rules come into force on Wednesday, officials warned.

Indonesia’s Pertamina starts production of low sulfur marine fuel from Plaju refinery
MFO part of the company’s efforts to provide cleaner fuels in compliance with IMO 2020.
More  (Subscription)

Fujairah low sulfur bunker price hits new record high as IMO 2020 looms
The price of low sulfur bunker fuel at the Middle Eastern bunkering hub of Fujairah has soared to a brand new high, as demand for IMO-compliant fuel rose significantly in December, with less than a few weeks to go before the new sulfur limit mandate begins in January 2020.
More  (Subscription)

MARINE FUEL ROUNDUP: ExxonMobil starts VLSFO deliveries at three ports
Exxonmobil said it has started sales of 0.5% sulfur fuel oil to the bunker markets at Fos/Marseille, France, at Genoa, Italy, and at Laem Chabang, Thailand.
More  (Subscription)

Fujairah Port to conduct random checks for IMO compliance
The Persian Gulf’s bunkering hub of Fujairah plans to conduct random checks in 2020 on ships taking bunker fuel at the port.
More (Subscription)