The IMO global sulphur cap for marine fuel is expected to increase bunker prices increase significantly, with Mr. Poulsson saying:
While ICS fully supports the objectives of the IMO cap, the overnight introduction of this regulatory game-changer will have enormous implications for ship operations. It will be vital to get the implementation right. As well as concerns as to whether sufficient quantities of compliant low sulphur fuels will be available in every port, there are a number of complex practical issues which IMO needs to urgently resolve within the next 18 months if the unfair treatment of ships is to be avoided.
As there is a lack of agreed standards for new fuels, including blends that will meet the 0.5% sulphur limit but which may differ in their composition from port to port, ICS is concerned that this could cause serious compatibility and mechanical issues.
As a result, there could possibly be a period of 'teething problems' when suitable compliant fuel might not always be available in every port until it can be shipped in from elsewhere.
If 0.5% sulphur fuel is not available in every port worldwide, then ships may still bunker and use other compliant fuels, such as 0.1% distillate, but this might raise other serious issues.
Mr. Poulsson added:
It is vital that ship operators, charterers and fuel purchasers start making the necessary preparations to be ready for this major change. This also means that oil refiners and bunker suppliers will need to ensure that compliant fuels are actually available for ships to purchase well in advance of January 2020.
The ICS Chairman made these comments in his introduction to the new ICS Annual Review, published in advance of the ICS AGM in Hong Kong next week.