Global oil refiners have upgraded processing subsidiaries and standardized operations to raise production of low-sulfur residual fuels and marine gas oil to prepare for more stringent transport gas standards that started on January 1.
The delivery trade consumes around 4 million barrels per day (BPD) of marine bunker fuels, and the rule adjustments will affect over 50,000 merchant ships across the world, opening a big new market for fuel producers.
Chinese marine fuel suppliers have inked short-term deals to purchase very low-sulfur fuel oil from firms like oil giant Shell, Germany’s Uniper, and U.S. commodities dealer Freepoint.
SK Chemicals has begun tests on mixing its biodiesel with petroleum-based fuels to develop low-sulfur marine oil.
At SK Energy’s biggest refinery in South Korea, engineers are rushing to complete a new processing unit ahead of plan.
Sales of low-sulfur marine fuel in the Singapore bunkering center surged to an all-time high of 2.076 million tonnes in November 2019, over double the previous file, authorities data showed.
Shell loaded its first LSFO baggage from its Pulau Bukom refinery in September 2019, and Singapore Refining Company supplied its first VLSFO freight in October.
Vitol is developing a 30,000 BPD crude distillation unit (CDU) in Malaysia to produce LSFO starting in May 2020, and IRPC Pcl stated it would produce 52,000 tonnes of VLSFO in November.
Uniper Energy DMCC runs two CDUs in Fujairah that yearly produce 3.6 million tonnes of VLSFO, along with 0.1% sulfur gasoline utilized in regional Emission Control Areas.
Most U.S. Gulf Coast refiners are capable of process heavy crudes used to make IMO-compliant marine fuels. They have invested heavily this year renovating distillation units and cokers to process cheaper heavy grades.