IMO 2020: High/low Sulfur Price Differential Widens

Tuesday December 18, 2018

Shipping accountant Moore Stephens regularly tests the water of industry opinion through its quarterly surveys.

Its latest asked an extra question around bunker fuel prices related to the coming International Maritime Organisation (IMO) rule change on the composition of bunker fuel.

The answers do nothing to assuage the uncertainty that pervades the market.

"It is noteworthy that almost a quarter of our survey respondents thought the price differential between high-sulphur fuel and IMO-compliant low-sulphur fuel come 1 January 2020 would be between $30 and $100 per metric tonne (mt) more than at present," said Moore Stephens partner Richard Greiner.

A quarter of respondents expected the price differential between high-sulphur fuel oil and IMO-compliant low-sulphur fuel oil at 1 January 2020 to be between $250 and $324/mt.A similar proportion put the figure at between $175 and $249, while 18% estimated it at $325 and $399. 12% thought the cost differential would be between $100 and $174, the survey showed.

For some owners, the expectation of a higher differential between high and low sulfur fuel grades has made scrubbers more attractive.

Price-reporting agencies have also noted the effect of uncertainty on traditional pricing arrangements particularly when agreeing term prices.