In a BBC interview Edmund Hughes, Head of air pollution at the IMO, highlights the importance of keeping up with the environmental regulations, confirming that the industry will always have a great availability on IMO-compliant fuels.
Mr Hughes firstly focuses on the current situation the shipping industry is dealing with; For the time being, the fuels used worldwide by fleets are the heavy fuel oils, which are very viscous and they need to be handled in a certain way. Mr Hughes further explains that heavy fuel oils are what it comes out of a refinery when it does not have to produce any more product out of the crude.
However, as the sulphur cap requires, the new fuels that are going to be produced, will be lighter, as the industry is reducing the sulphur content off the fuel oil.
Currently, many key players in the oil and gas industry have presented a variety of IMO-compliant fuels, as for instance, Maersk and Koole Terminals announced their collaboration on producing an IMO 2020 compliant fuel in Rotterdam.
Moreover, Mr Hughes adds that to reduce the Sulphur from 3.5% to 0.5% you have to blend a current fuel oil with lighter fuel oils. Although for the time being they are not available, as there is not much demand fore blended fuels, in the future, beginning from January 2020 they will be on the market.
We’re talking about 200 or 250 million tons of fuel oil that needs to be supplied to the industry, that may be different from what we currently require
… as he further stated.
Despite the more than promising future based on compliant fuels, some in the industry are still concerned on whether complaint fuels will be enough. Consequently, Mr Hughes reported that by making the decision back in October 2016, in reducing shipping emissions, the IMO sent a clear signal to the those who supply fuel oil to the industry that this was going to be a requirement that needed to be met and stated that “we know that fuel oil supplying industry has been working really hard to prepare, and they are going to launch a high quality fuel and therefore it will attract a high price.”
Concluding, in an exclusive interview, Mr Hughes stated that “the key message to the industry is to continue to strive to improve shipping’s sustainability. And to continue to support IMO – through the international shipping industry bodies which have consultative status at the Organization – in formulating global regulations for global shipping.”