Fuel spread uncertainties rise with 100 days to go until the global sulphur cap

Today marks 100 days until the global sulphur cap kicks in with many in the shipping community still scrabbling to get ready for the single largest regulation to hit the industry this decade.

The greatest unknown as the last days of 2019 tick down are the bunker price spreads, which have proved hugely volatile in recent days.

Pankaj Khanna, CEO of tanker operator Heidmar, observed how the spreads between low and high sulphur oil collapsed in Singapore last week and have since started to go back up.

Khanna also voiced concern about which countries might not enforce the cap, with a number of Asian countries wavering on the issue in recent weeks.

Ajay Chaudhry, executive director at Fleet Management, said the current price spread – about $50 per ton, down from $100 a fortnight ago – makes it attractive for owners and operators to switch over sooner rather than later.

Carl Schou, the president of Wilhelmsen Ship Management, told Splash that with just over three months to go, owners must be focusing on their storage tanks by now.

“Make sure all tanks which will carry compliant fuel are cleaned,” said Schou, relating how some owners he knows have brought class in to certify and verify that the tanks have been cleaned and are ready for loading compliant fuel.

Schou also urged owners to make sure a vessel superintendent goes onboard the vessel during the last three months of the year and informs crew of what they must do with regards to accepting compliant fuel/testing/verifying compliance. This must be logged onboard so that if any issues later, an owner can then document that the company has done as much as they could in terms of informing and training the crew.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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