IMO Tightening Sulfur Limits In Bunker Fuels: Will Mena Refiners Cope?

A sharp cut in sulfur levels in all marine fuels beginning in 14 months’ time will hit Mena refiners, but some countries are more prepared than others.

The Marine Environment Protection Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) last week committed to its plan to reduce marine fuel sulfur limits from 3.5% to 0.5% beginning 1 January 2020, dashing any hopes of a delay or the US delegation’s proposal of an ‘experience-building’ period after the limit has been slashed.

Although the tighter limit was first agreed in 2008, refiners and ship operators did little to prepare for the switch until it was formalized in late 2016. Refiners face the prospect of installing upgrading equipment to meet the tighter restrictions on high sulfur fuel oil (HSFO) in particular, with operators of sophisticated refineries likely to benefit from an initial surge in demand for marine gasoil. (CONTINUED - 1612 WORDS)


chart 1: Bunker Deliveries In OECD And Main Non-OECD Countries (MN B/D, IEA Forecasts)
chart 2: Mena Fuel Oil Exports ('000 B/D)"
chart 3: Mena Fuel Oil Exports vs Total Products Exports (%)