From 1st of January 2020, IMO will ban the use of fuel with a sulphur content more than 0.5%, unless the ship is equipped with a scrubber.

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Commenting on this, Guy Platten, secretary general of the ICS, told Reuters that fuel supplies will be patchy outside the main bunkering ports, something that worries the tramp sector. Such vessels do not have fixed schedules, as they go from port to port dropping off and picking up cargoes on an availability basis.

As Mr. Platten added, there is a specific process to buy high sulphur fuel oil if a ship absolutely ca not get any compliant fuel, but it is the last resort because of all the things you would have to do afterwards like cleaning tanks. What is more, there are also safety issues regarding the compatibility of different fuel blends for ship engines.

Regarding the tramp sector, it will account for around 40% of global demand for compliant low sulphur fuels, the ICS says, citing a United Nations maritime study and IMO fuel consumption estimates.

In an exclusive interview with SAFETY4SEA, during the London International Shipping Week, Guy Platten provided his thoughts on the future of shipping and how IMO 2020 will affect it.

According to Mr. Platten, the 2020 sulphur cap is naturally the most immediate challenge that the industry is facing nowadays.

He explained that this is what ‘keeps ship owners awake’, as it will lead to ‘an absolute massive change for the industry.’

Despite the challenges that the new regulation may bring however, Mr. Platten is optimistic that the industry will get through that. But another issue will emerge as well:

"We will get through that, because the industry always does and I think the next problem is how we are going to move to a zero carbon future."