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Fuel with lower sulphur for shipping is available at major ports

Tuesday, 18 February 2020 | 16:00

The enforcement of an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) ruling that fuel oil for ships should have a sulphur limit of 0.5percent, versus 3.5previously, from January 1, has not disrupted shipping and the cleaner fuels are available at major ports.
South African Maritime Safety Authority technical spokesperson Captain Saroor Ali said there had been no disruptions.

The ports notified the vessels before berthing about their fuel requirements, specifications and if they had scrubbers on board – a scrubber allows the vessel to continue using the less cleaner fuel with a 0.35 percent limit – and not a single vessel had been found to be non-compliant with the changes, he said.

Glencore’s Astron Energy, owner of the Milnerton refinery in Cape Town said they were producing Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil with a sulphur content of 0.5percent, following a R400million investment at the refinery. The fuel from the Milnerton refinery was available in Cape Town harbour as well as Richards Bay.

Engen spokesperson Gavin Smith said their refinery in Durban still produced 3.5percent fuel oil, which was being sold in Durban if the purchasing vessel could prove it had a scrubber on board, while the company was importing 0.5percent fuel oil through Richards Bay. Another well placed source in the oil refining industry said the government currently had no regulations allowing for the penalty of vessels that did not comply with the new IMO ruling, but the Department of Transport was formulating the regulations, and these were anticipated, at this stage, to be promulgated in June this year.

The IMO has estimated that the new sulphur limit could cut sulphur oxide emissions from ships by 77percent, or about 8.5million tons annually. Fuel oil for shipping has long been one of the dirtiest fossil fuels, made up of low-value and cheap crude oil that is unsuitable or expensive to refine into high-grade products such as petrol for cars, or kerosene for planes. Ship engines have been designed to cope with such low-grade fuel, and because the pollution takes place far from land and is less visible, had previously been largely ignored by governments.

Asia’s market for very low-sulphur fuel oil cooled this week from record highs near the start of the year, as demand slowed under seasonal factors and an epidemic in China, while supply expectations improve, Reuters reported.
Source: Business Report

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