No Clear Route to 2020 Sulfur Cap Compliance: ExxonMobil

Wednesday October 11, 2017

A new survey by ExxonMobil has found that the route to compliance with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) 0.50 percent global sulfur cap set for 2020 is unclear for many vessel operators.

With 70 percent of respondents saying that they do not believe the industry is ready for the deadline, the company says the survey findings highlight an ongoing sense of confusion and lack of preparedness.

"The makeup of the marine fuel mix in 2020 and beyond is a clear area of concern, with wide-ranging views from the industry on how the landscape will evolve," said ExxonMobil.

32 percent of survey respondent see a combination of heavy fuel oil, marine gas oil, and fuels and blends will be used, while 69 percent predict the cap will lead to the development of new low sulfur fuels.

"At ExxonMobil we expect that new 0.5 percent fuel formulations will emerge, based on low sulfur refinery streams, in addition to novel fuel blends," said Iain White, Global Marine Marketing Manager at ExxonMobil.

"As a result, it’s likely we will see increased compatibility and stability problems, which will make purchasing fuels from a trusted supplier more important than ever."

53 percent of survey respondents foresee an increase in fuel spending, and 45 percent predict an increase in investment in abatement technologies..

11 percent of respondents said they were actively looking into scrubber installations prior to 2020, while 40 percent suggested there was a lack of economic clarity to support such an investment.

Meanwhile, 31 percent of respondents said they believe there will be a growth in the adoption of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel.

ExxonMobil says the survey results align with its "2017 Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040," which predicts that by 2040 global LNG consumption will rise to more than two and a half times the 2015 level.

"The results of this survey show that that we are heading to a multi-fuel future and that there is not one obvious fuel solution that will apply to all vessels," said White.

"To avoid the pitfalls that may lie ahead, it’s vital that operators work closely with trusted fuel suppliers to ensure that they select the best route to compliance for their vessel’s needs."