As the global bunkering industry prepares for tighter marine fuel sulfur limits from 1 January 2020, those GCC refiners that have invested heavily in fuel oil upgrading capacity in recent years – and those that have upgrading projects under way – stand to benefit, in stark contrast to operators of unsophisticated plants.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) will tighten its limits for sulfur in marine fuels from 3.5% currently to 0.5%. This gives shipowners the option of switching to fuel that hits the 0.5% sulfur limit – the vanilla options are very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO), marine gasoil or LNG although traders are trialing innovative blends – or installing scrubbers to remove sulfur oxides from ship engines and boilers. The IMO has also tightened the rules further by banning ships without scrubbers from carrying non-compliant fuels (MEES, 2 November 2018). (CONTINUED - 828 WORDS)