The global sulphur cap for 2020 is coming closer. Therefore, not surprisingly, shipping news sites have been and will be focussing more and more on the impact of the directive on the marine industry. Only this week there have been more than 25 stories concerning the sulphur cap. The stories covered a range of topics including further consolidation in the bunker industry, the technology of scrubbers, uncertainty in the industry and noncompliance were discussed.

Consolidation. As tightening emissions regulations impose greater costs and test credit lines, the bunker industry can expect to undergo further consolidation in preliminary stage to 2020, according to global supplier Bomin Group. Smaller bunker traders could, as a consequence, be devoured by larger players across the industry as the increase in costs for fuel will put pressure on credit conditions across both the bunker and shipping industries.

Scrubbers. Another frequent topic this week was scrubbers. Although using scrubbers would be one solution for meeting the requirements of lower sulphur emission standards, at this point in time, only around 500 ships have installed scrubbers. Also featuring this was a story this week on a survey by ExxonMobil which revealed that many vessel operators are insecure in selecting the best route to comply with the 2020 0.5% global fuel sulphur limit set by the IMO. Results showed that 68% of the respondents believed the marine sector is not ready for the deadline. The future for the marine industry might be multi-fuel and it will be vital for operators and fuel suppliers to work closely, according to Iain White, Global Marine Marketing Manager at ExxonMobil.

Cheating. As there are still a huge number of ship operators that have not made up their mind about how best to comply with the upcoming low sulphur regulations, the possibility of cheating and ignoring the rules completely should be not underestimated. Especially in times where currently there are no solutions in place to enable authorities to find cheating ships, the issue is becoming urgent. But Norway might be meeting these concerns by presenting an IMO proposal introducing a ban against fuel that does not comply with the directive.

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