Cleaner fuels, new fuels

27 February 2013

Environmentally driven changes to shipping fuels will bring big upheavals for the world’s refiners

WORLDWIDE, maritime transport uses about 370 million tonnes a year (t/y) of bunker fuel of all types, accounting for about 9% of world oil consumption. For many refiners, earning their revenues from light streams, bunker fuel is little more than a by-product - but shifts in shipping fuel specifications, together with the possible introduction of new fuels, will force changes to that relationship. Heavy investments will be needed if refiners are to continue to make what has always been a low-margin product. Environmentalists say the shipping business has avoided much of the clean-up legislation of the past several decades, in which period the sulphur content of road fuels has been reduced to virtually zero in many countries. Ships burn their fuel in international waters, and sometimes also buy it from tankers moored in international waters, so legislation can be difficult to agree and enforce....



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