T&T’S SOLE fuel importer Paria Fuel Trading met the January 1, 2020 deadline to ensure that the bunker fuel sold to local and international ships using T&T ports was in line with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations for the 2020 global sulphur limit.
Responding to questions from Express Business, Paria said it was fully prepared and implemented the low-sulphur limit for marine fuel in December last year.
The new IMO regulations stipulated the implementation of a 0.5 per cent global sulphur cap for marine fuels as of January 1, 2020. Under the new global cap, all ships will have to use fuel on board with a sulphur content of no more than 0.5 per cent, compared with the previous limit of 3.50 per cent in an effort to reduce the amount of sulphur oxide. When sulphur dioxide combines with water and air, it forms sulfuric acid, which is the main component of acid rain.
Ships that use fuels containing more than 0.5 per cent sulphur would have had to be previously fitted with scrubbers or equipped for alternative fuels such as LNG.
Failure to comply with the global regulations will result in fines or vessels being detained and in some jurisdictions the risk of imprisonment, which could affect vital requirements such as insurance cover, Reuters reported last week. Enforcement will be policed by flag and port states ratherthan the IMO and industry officials are still unsure about whether there will be full compliance when it kicks in.
The Reuters report stated: “While major fuel bunkering ports such as Singapore, Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates and Rotterdam in the Netherlands have compliant-fuel supplies, analysts and shipping firms are still unclear what will happen at smaller ports given the need for ships to plan their sailing routes.
“As the global clean-fuel mandate takes effect, testing companies examining newer, low-sulfur marine blends acquired in Antwerp, Belgium, Houston and Singapore have found sediment at levels that could damage the engines of ocean-going vessels.”
Paria explained that at this time, fuel oil used for propulsion accounts for about 75 per cent of the global bunker market fuel and the remaining 25 per cent is gasoil. Paria offers both fuel oil and gasoil products, but it noted that fuel oil is not used as a bunker fuel by the local market.
The company said it imports gasoil with a maximum sulphur limit of 0.1 per cent, which will continue to be used for the bunker market post 2020. Paria said it also began importing IMO-compliant fuel oil with a sulphur content of 0.5 per cent as of December 2019, which is currently supplied to customers.
Asked what is T&T’s local demand for maritime fuel oil and gasoil, Paria said: “The local demand for bunker fuel is gasoil of approximately 7,600 barrels per month. Bunker sales in total per month is typically (mainly sales to international vessels/ customers calling to T&T):-
• Gasoil – 3,400 barrels per day
• Fuel oil – 1,100 barrels per day
Asked about the price at which bunker fuels are sold, Paria said: “With respect to the selling price, this information cannot be disclosed. It should be noted that it varies with market conditions and commercial terms.”
State-owned Paria, which is one of the successor companies to Petrotrin, which was closed down in November 2018, said the bunker fuel it sells is “purchased from international suppliers and can come from varied sources. The fuel oil and gasoil are from two different suppliers. The products supplied meet the IMO specifications.”
How some top
refiners have prepared
The shipping industry consumes about 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of marine bunker fuels, and the rule changes will impact more than 50,000 merchant ships globally, opening a significant new market for fuel producers.
Marine fuel supplier Peninsula Petroleum plans to double VLSFO deliveries to 600,000 tonnes by year-end in Europe and the Americas.
Gunvor Group will overhaul its refinery in Rotterdam in March to produce LSFO.
Most US Gulf Coast refiners are able to process heavy crudes used to make IMO-compliant marine fuels, and have spent heavily this year refurbishing distillation units and cokers to process cheaper, heavy grades.
For example, Motiva Enterprises overhauled its Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, the nation’s largest, this year.
Chinese marine fuel suppliers have signed up short-term deals to buy very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) from companies like oil major Shell, Germany’s Uniper and U.S. commodities trader Freepoint.
While China’s state refiners have pledged to produce a combined 14 million tonnes of the fuel for 2020 that complies with the tighter rules set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Beijing has not yet rolled out much-anticipated tax breaks that will encourage refiners such as Sinopec and PetroChina to ramp up domestic output of VLSFO.
Sales of low-sulphur marine fuel in the Singapore bunkering hub soared to an all-time high of 2.076 million tonnes in November, more than double the previous record, government data showed.
Shell loaded its first LSFO cargo from its Pulau Bukom refinery in September, and Singapore Refining Company (SRC) supplied its first VLSFO cargo in October.
Chevron, which partly owns SRC, said its VLSFO and MGO supply capacity in Asia could double in the next one to two years.
Indonesia’s Pertamina said in December it would soon send its first marine fuel shipment from its Plaju refinery to its Balikpapan supply point.
Vitol is building a 30,000 bpd crude distillation unit (CDU) in Malaysia to supply LSFO starting in May 2020, and IRPC Pcl said it will produce 52,000 tonnes of VLSFO in November.
Indian Oil Corporation Ltd has started supplying IMO-compliant fuel in India.
*LSFO stands for fuel oil with sulphur content of between 0.5 per cent and 1.0 per cent; VLSFO for fuel oil with a sulphur content of less than or equal to 0.5 per cent; and ultra low-sulphur fuel oil (ULSFO) for fuel oil with sulphur content of less than or equal to 0.1 per cent. Refineries that lack the technology to product VLSFO outright, may produce LSFO and blend it down to IMO-compliant levels. See the table at for more information. (1 tonne of fuel oil is about 6.31-6.9 barrels, depending on the fuel’s relative density)