Shipowners, refiners to benefit from process (file image/pixabay)
From the start of 2020, US-based Rigby Refining estimates that around 2.3 million barrels a day (b/d) of fuel oil will have nowhere to go.
Other analysts share their opinion, for example, Energy Aspects' Rhidoy Rashid, who pegs surplus-to-requirement fuel oil demand close to the Rigby estimate at 2 million b/d once the International Maritime Organisation sulfur cap kicks in.
But whatever the exact figure, it is clear there will be plenty of high sulfur fuel oil (HSFO) formerly used by ships without an identifiable market.
In an industry presentation made last month, Rigby Refining outlined its solution for that stranded demand.
Ship operators will see their fuel linked to the cheaper high sulfur grade while refiners can upgrade their residual product
In essence, the Rigby Refining process uses aggregation plants to turn HSFO into low sulfur fuel oil (LSFO 0.5%) or ultra low sulfur fuel oil (ULSFO 0.1%) "without cracking the molecule".
Pilot schemes have converted a 3.3% sulfur feed into 0.5% and 0.1% outcomes at good quality, the company said.
Rigby Refining is looking for partners to develop its offer to the market.
Backing up its case, the company says that in the post-2020 market, ship owners and operators will see their fuel linked to the cheaper high sulfur grade while refiners can upgrade their residual product into a diesel substitue and optimize their crude slate.
For more information click here.