ExxonMobil Issues Guidance for Switching to IMO 2020 Compliant Bunkers

Friday May 25, 2018

ExxonMobil has issued a set of best practice guidelines to help the industry switch to 0.50% sulfur bunkers to comply with the upcoming IMO 2020 rule.

"The fuels landscape is set to dramatically change when the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) 0.5% sulphur cap comes into force on 1 January 2020," the energy major says.

While there are a number of options on the table to meet the new regulation, including fitting a vessel with an exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber) and continuing to burn HSFO, the vast majority of the industry is on course to switch to compliant fuel.

As with previous sulfur regulations, the new cap is expected to usher in a raft of new fuels, and in the case of IMO 2020 these are expected to be 0.50% sulfur HFO blends - something which the industry has never seen before.

"Some of the new compliant fuels could contain elevated levels of cat fines, which left untreated could trigger catastrophic engine damage," ExxonMobil warned.

The company also warned on a number of other quality and compatibility issues.

"There is a risk that two compliant fuels will not be compatible, which can trigger damaging sludge formation," says ExxonMobil.

Vessel operators should store fuels separately until testing has been carried out, and that compatibility testing should be with a reputable laboratory, the firm adds.

ExxonMobil's guidance also includes a recommendation to buy 8217:2017 spec bunkers, with 8217:2005 still being the more common spec quoted today.

Testing fuel to ensure it meets the new limit is also a good idea, ExxonMobil says, as "using fuels that do not comply with the emissions regulations could result in costly penalties."

The full guidelines can be found here: https://www.exxonmobil.com/en/marine/technicalresource/news-resources/low-sulphur-fuel-guidance