With the first quarter of 2017 over, the slew of problems facing the bunker industry shows no sign of diminishing. Consolidation among both shipowners and fuel suppliers, tightening credit conditions and shifting demand are all adding to the threat posed by tougher environmental regulations due to be introduced in the years ahead.
More emissions regulation to follow IMO sulfur cap
The biggest shock for the industry to absorb is the decision by the International Maritime Organization in October to cut the global marine fuel sulfur content limit to 0.5% from the start of 2020 from 3.5%. While the decision itself was not a surprise to most, the problem is the lack of clarity about what happens next.
The lower sulfur limit will force shipowners to fit emissions-cleaning scrubbers to their vessels, to ignore the regulations entirely or — likely the most popular option at first — to switch to burning a fuel with a lower sulfur content.