Vessels will avoid areas lacking cleaner maritime fuel, says panel

Shortages of low-sulphur fuel oil could appear at some ports in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia next year, but most major ports around the world would have adequate supplies when the 0.50% sulphur cap comes into force on January 1st 2020, panellists at a shipping industry conference have said at a Mare Forum USA conference, Reuters reported.

However, shortages in some places could force vessels to detour to ports with ample supplies, said Maria Burns, a supply chain specialist and an assistant professor at the University of Houston. She said any diversions would be costly for fuel sellers and ship owners, noting that about 6%, or 3,000, of the world’s 55,000 ocean-going vessels were expected to have scrubbers installed by 2020, far less than originally expected. Global refiners had not been able to guarantee the quality and compatibility of the shipping fuels they supply, said Sean Kline, a director at industry group Chamber of Shipping of America. “If something is keeping us up at night, it’s the quality and compatibility of the fuels. You can get a different blend with different components at the same port. If they get bad fuel, they have to deal with it onboard,” Kline said