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IMO HOSTS SYMPOSIUM ON 2020 AND ALTERNATIVE FUELS

Friday, October 18, 2019 

The preparedness of all stakeholders for the significant change resulting from the 1 January 2020 sulphur emission regulations - as well as the challenges were highlighted during a Symposium on IMO 2020 and Alternative Fuels, held at IMO.

The symposium brought together a range of speakers, from Member Governments, shipping, refineries, fuel oil suppliers and legal professionals.

"Collaboration among key stakeholders is essential for the smooth landing of IMO 2020," said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, opening the symposium, which was attended by over 300 delegates. He highlighted the tremendous amount of work undertaken to prepare for IMO 2020 by all stakeholders, since the 2020 date was confirmed in 2016, including a series of guidance and guidelines for shipowners as well as flag and port States.

The change is significant and - for most ships – will mean a switch to new types of compliant fuel oils, so-called very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), or marine gas/diesel oil. The VLSFO blends are new to the market.  

Member States speaking at the symposium, including representatives from Denmark, Japan, Marshall Islands and Singapore, said that they were ready as flag and port States to implement and enforce the sulphur 2020 limit. Stakeholder meetings were a feature in many countries, bringing together industry and government officials to ensure preparedness.

In terms of supply of the new fuel oil needed to meet the 2020 limit, representatives from IPIECA, representing the oil and gas industry, and IBIA, representing the bunker industry, confirmed that supply of the low sulphur fuel oil was expected to be readily available in most locations and is already available in some. Many ships will be looking to load complaint fuel oil well before the end of 2019. However, there was an expectation of price volatility and supply and demand would have to find a new balance which could take time – especially given that this involves many different actors, from refiners, to bunker suppliers, to ships and the shipping industry.

"It is all going to be about market dynamics - but supply and demand will get in balance. It will not be an easy transition, but we will get there," said Eddy van Bouwel, Chair, marine fuels committee, IPIECA.

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