IMO Fuel Availability Study Finds No Major Barriers To Providing Sufficient Compliant Bunkers: Sources

Monday June 20, 2016

A study undertaken on behalf of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has found that there are no major barriers to producing enough compliant bunkers to meet a 0.50 percent global sulfur cap in 2020, according to sources.

Findings of the CE Delft-led fuel availability study are not yet public, but unnamed sources quoted by Tradewinds said the report has now been completed and is being reviewed by 13 IMO member states, as well as a small number of NGOs.

It is intended that the report will be discussed at the 70th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 70) in October with a view to making a decision on whether the new 0.50 percent sulfur cap will come into force in 2020, or delayed until 2025.

While the results of the study were originally intended to be a key factor in the decision, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has said that in reality the decision taken by IMO will actually be a political one.

"Even if the supply of compliant fuel is projected to be tight, IMO Member States might nevertheless conclude that it is politically unacceptable to postpone implementation," the organisation said last month, adding that the pressure was on for the IMO to commit to 2020.

Still, the study's findings are still significant; not only was a lack of compliant fuel cited as being a major reason the new sulfur cap would need to be delayed, it was perhaps the only explanation that IMO could have given that would have had any chance of being accepted by those pushing for 2020.

News that fuel availability will not be a problem will be of little surprise to some in the industry, including Adrian Tolson who last month said concerns over a shortage of compliant distillates could be misguided.