The IMO’s low sulfur fuel regulation has caused a lot of debates among the players of the fuel supply chain. Most of the shipowners, ship-managers and charterers have reacted with skepticism and criticism due to the structural changes that the new regulations will bring to the -already volatile- shipping markets. Bunker suppliers and fuel-testing organisations, on the other hand, have not yet cleared the market concerns around the availability and the performance of the new fuels. Despite the fact that tests and trials are ongoing, few samples have only been available so far and their results are not widely communicated among the market players, mainly due to agreed confidentiality terms.
However, as usually happens with anything new, it also contains its own hidden opportunities. Specifically, it is a good opportunity for the industry to take advantage of the new regulation so as to create a new modern culture around the marine fuel delivery procedures. A culture which will enhance the collaboration between the parties and increase transparency. Such a synergy among market participants will solve core industry problems, which are mainly related with the fuel quality and increased costs and will subsequently serve the interests of all parties concerned.
Each year, a lot of fuel contamination events occur which increase the operating expenses and the legal costs as a result of the engine malfunctions and the disputes between the parties. Currently, fuel testings which take place on a case by case basis, have not helped to solve the underlying problem but only give Shipowners an idea of what might have created the specific problem each time.
According to VeriFuel, part of Bureau Veritas, instead of individual testings, an industry-wide cost and effect analysis on a global scale is necessary. Especially nowadays with the new bunker fuels entering the market soon, it is really important for the industry to have a clear view of how these new low-sulfur fuels will perform and what will be their impact on ship’s engines and machineries.
To avoid contamination events become worse, the participants of the fuel supply chain are called this time to work cooperatively in order to improve the overall industry awareness via the exchange of technical information. IMO 2020 regulation is industry’s best opportunity for new processes to be established and new technologies to be utilised in order to increase market transparency, improve fuel quality and lower overall expenses.