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High sulphur fuel oil premiums in Asia surged to a record on Thursday, one of the first signs of the impact of a shift in global ship fuel rules set to occur in 2020.

The premium for 380-centistoke (cst) high-sulphur fuel oil rose to $11.63 a tonne above Singapore benchmark prices on Thursday, according to Reuters data.

The surge is a result of a combination of factors. Companies reducing their holdings of high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) before lower sulphur mandates for ship fuel, known as bunkers, go into effect next year has caused a recent drop in HSFO inventories in Singapore, the world’s biggest bunker fuel port.

At the same time, HSFO demand in the Middle East has soared to fuel power plants meeting increased cooling demand in the region. Fuel oil is a refining byproduct used primarily as a shipping fuel, with 380-cst the most common standard used on ships, and for power generation.

“Singapore HSFO markets strengthened this week on higher regional demand from the Middle East and India,” said Nevyn Nah of energy consulting firm Energy Aspects.


The surge also underscores the radical shift that is coming for global fuel oil markets.

The International Maritime Organization has mandated that ships use bunker fuel with a sulphur limit of 0.5% starting in 2020 from 3.5% currently, meaning the supply of 3.5% HSFO will lose value at the end of 2019 as the market moves to low-sulphur bunker fuels.

Suppliers have already begun clearing out their HSFO inventories ahead of 2020, three trade sources said, which is creating a supply shortfall.

“Owning HSFO going into tail end of Q3 2019 will be painful,” said a Singapore-based fuel oil trader.

Singapore fuel oil stocks plummeted 14% to a more than three-month low of 19.557 million barrels, data from Enterprise Singapore showed on Thursday.

Singapore typically draws fuel oil cargoes from around the world. However, traders are reluctant to accumulate new supply despite price signals that would normally incentivize shipments, with 380-cst HSFO in Singapore at a premium of $34 a tonne to Europe, the highest since November.

The premium of the front-month 380-cst HSFO swap to the second-month swap widened to a record $20.50 a tonne on Thursday, Refinitv data showed.

This backwardated structure to the market, when prices for prompt supply are higher than later months, is a clear sign of a commodity in short supply.

However, a backwardated market means shipping fuel oil long distances will cause the cargo to lose value during the voyage.

As a result, the amount of fuel oil set to arrive from the West will be 2.31 million tonnes in July, slightly higher than the 13-year low of 1.5 million tonnes in June but below the 2019 average of 2.8 million tonnes, Refinitiv data showed.

“With efforts to reduce HSFO supplies in full swing now, there will be pockets of tightness from now until the very last day of the year, when demand will take a nosedive,” said Energy Aspect’s Nah.
Source: Reuters



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Taiwan’s Formosa Petrochemical Corp. started selling low sulfur fuel oil cargoes for the first time as the margins of the grade jumped on strong stockpiling demand, a company source said Thursday.

The company sold 35,000 mt of 180 CST LSFO with maximum 0.4% sulfur for loading in early July from Mailiao, the source said.
The company also offered 35,000 mt of 180 CST LSFO with maximum 0.5% sulfur for loading over end July from Mailiao in a tender, closing on Friday, according to the source.

Formosa typically sells high sulfur fuel oil with maximum 3.5%.

The sale was based on “refining margins [of LSFO],” the source added.

“The fuel oil crack spread has risen. Refiners can sell more fuel oil,” said an industry source.

The premium of Marine Fuel 0.5% to the Mean of Platts Singapore 380 CST high sulfur fuel oil kept strong until June. The premium hit $135.00/mt on June 4, the highest since S&P Global Platts launched the assessments January 2 this year, S&P Global Platts data showed.

The strong premium came with higher demand for stockpiling of low sulfur fuel oil and blending stocks ahead of a new sulfur cap implemented by the International Maritime Organization from January 2020. Traders and bunker suppliers started stockpiling LSFO and blending stocks ahead of 2020.

At the same time, high sulfur fuel oil crack spread has been rising due to supply tightness. The front-end 180 CST/Dubai crude crack spread averaged minus 61 cents/b in June, up from minus $2.55/mt in May, Platts data showed. The crack spread averaged minus $2.67/mt in 2018, according to Platts data.



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ExxonMobil has introduced EMF.5™, its range of Engineered Marine Fuels developed ahead of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) global 0.50 percent sulphur cap. All the fuels in the range are specifically engineered to help vessel operators comply with the 2020 regulations without compromising on quality.

All EMF.5 fuels announced to date are compatible with each other, provided that bunkering, storage and handling best practice guidance is followed. The fuels also offer safe and efficient compliance with the IMO 2020 regulations.

In addition to meeting the ISO 8217-2017 specification, EMF.5 fuels have also passed ExxonMobil’s rigorous fit-for-use assessments, allowing customers to bunker the high quality, compliant options they need ahead of the IMO 2020 deadline.

This combination of characteristics will help ensure that vessel operators can continue to operate their main engines, auxiliary engines and boilers safely and efficiently when they switch to 0.50 percent sulphur fuels, as the negative, operational and financial consequences of a major product quality problem could be very significant.

ExxonMobil has also developed a newly formulated 40BN cylinder oil, Mobilgard™ 540, which is specifically designed to work with low-sulphur fuels. The new lubricant will be available across the company’s global port network and via its extensive distribution network.

“Compliance should not come at the expense of fuel quality, and our EMF.5 range delivers assurances on both to the marine industry,” said Luca Volta, marine fuels venture manager at ExxonMobil. “By including our 0.50 percent sulphur fuels in our branded marine offer, we are delivering the additional security that vessel operators want, and need, every time they bunker.”

“The increasing variety of fuels entering the market raises the potential of quality and compatibility challenges,” said Mike Noorman, head of fuels technology at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. “We have developed proprietary methods for modifying fuel composition to improve quality characteristics, such as combustion, stability, waxing and compatibility. Therefore, purchasing ExxonMobil’s EMF.5 fuels can help allay these concerns at a time of great change for the industry.”

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New Shipping Fuel Rules Are to Starting to Rock the Oil Market


They may still be six months away, but new rules on marine fuels are already sending shock-waves through the little-known world of refinery feedstocks.

The price of these low-sulfur, heavier oils — that refineries make and then reprocess into transport fuels like gasoline and diesel — has jumped in Europe in recent weeks because the shipping industry is starting to drive up demand for the products. The surge benefits some refineries while hurting others.

“We’re moving from an old norm to a new norm,” said Steve Sawyer, senior analyst at energy consultant Facts Global Energy. “The market is paying a higher premium for low-sulfur material than it did before because people are looking to stockpile low-sulfur bunker fuel.”

Refiners typically run feedstocks — in particular straight-run fuel oil and vacuum gasoil — through upgrading units, converting them into more valuable transport fuels. That means there’s historically been a link with prices for the finished fuels. That relationship is now being disrupted by the need to produce cleaner marine fuels before a 0.5% sulfur cap stipulated by the International Maritime Organization that starts in January.

Straight run fuel oil with 0.5% sulfur recently turned more expensive than Brent crude in northwest Europe for the first time in five years, according to Jan-Jaap Verschoor, director of Oil Analytics, a firm that tracks margins across the global refining industry. The price hike for the feedstock makes sense as refiners buy up the product in preparation for ramping up production of next year’s marine fuel, he said.

The market for very low sulfur fuel oil, or VLSFO, is already heating up in Europe. Along with Italy’s Saras SpA, Israel’s ORL Refineries Ltd. has already sold its first compliant fuel, while tanker owner Euronav NV has been buying up 0.5% product for storage in the Mediterranean Sea on one of the world’s biggest vessels.

Exxon Mobil Corp. said Wednesday that it plans to offer 0.5% marine fuels in seven ports across Europe and Asia. At least one company has switched its holding tanks to low-sulfur fuel oil from high sulfur.

“The strength in secondary feedstock will last for as long as refiners are in VLSFO production mode,” said Eugene Lindell, senior oil market analyst at JBC Energy GmbH. With around 35 million barrels of 0.5% fuel already in storage, there’s potential for roughly the same amount to stockpiled over the coming months, he estimates.

For refiners, the impact depends on the individual plant’s configuration. More basic, or simple, facilities will typically have a higher yield of feedstocks that are useful for IMO 2020 if the crude they process is low in sulfur and heavy. Those would benefit from the price jump. More-sophisticated operations that are reliant on feedstocks would feel a squeeze when prices rise.

At the moment, buying of 0.5% bunker fuel remains relatively small, but Sawyer says he expects it to increase to over 1 million barrels a day as shippers move away from non-compliant fuel. The International Energy Agency, Energy Aspects, ClipperData and Rystad are all expecting similar demand hikes.

“There’s just going to be a run on low-sulfur materials, from whatever angle, wherever they can get it,” Verschoor said.
Source: Bloomberg


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Asian oil refiners are being squeezed by rising freight rates and insurance costs for shipping crude from the Middle East after attacks on ships in the Gulf last month, industry officials and analysts said.

The Middle East accounts for more than two-thirds of Asia’s oil supply and the attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13 have heightened security concerns among oil companies and shippers operating in the region.

The war risk insurance premium (WRP) for ships travelling in the Gulf has risen 10-fold as a result, according to industry participants. Meanwhile, the freight rates for very large crude carriers (VLCC) from Gulf oil terminals to Asian ports have jumped about 30% since the attacks, according to Refinitiv data. DRFT-ME-CN

“Earlier it (WRP) was virtually nil for a VLCC as we were paying about $15,000-$20,000 and now this has gone up to $150,000 to $200,000,” said an official at Indian Oil Corp (IOC).

The IOC official said its WRP has gone up to 0.4% from 0.04% while the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ) said late last month that the insurance rate had risen to 0.25% from 0.025%.

The WRP is set as a percentage of the ship’s value, said multiple trading sources, adding that the newer the ships are, the higher the insurance cost will be.

Since June 12, the cost of shipping crude from the Saudi Arabian port of Ras Tanura in the Gulf to Ningbo, China, on a VLCC has surged 27% to $1.24 a barrel, Refinitiv data showed. In that same period and using the same type of vessel, moving crude from the United Arab Emirates to the Indian port of Visakhapatnam has climbed 37% and from Kuwait to Singapore by 24%, the data showed. TD-RTA-NGB TD-FAT-VTZ TD-MEA-SIN

A trader at a Chinese refinery said the jump in freight rates were still manageable at this point.

“In the short-term, freight rates are not likely to go further up because demand for shipping capacity is weak,” said Georgi S. Slavov, head of research at U.K. brokerage Marex Spectron.

Still, while freight rates are not expected to rise further, the oil and shipping industry remained wary of the potential for further conflict in the Middle East.

“If the current situation lasts long or gets deteriorated, it would eventually affect the overall cost,” Takashi Tsukioka, president of the PAJ, said.

“We are monitoring the situation and have been diversifying crude oil sources to replace Middle East crude oil,” an official from a South Korean refinery said.

“Middle East prices are high but it’s hard to cut Middle East crude oil because we need some Middle East heavy grades.
Source: Reuters

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Corvus Energy is pleased to announce that the company has completed the installation of a 5,5 MWh battery energy storage systems (ESS) for each of the two Ro-Pax cruise ferries “Cruise Barcelona” and “Cruise Roma” owned and operated by Italian Grimaldi Group.

The ‘mega batteries’ will allow the Grimaldi cruise ferries to turn off the diesel engines and operate solely on battery power and with zero emissions for up to four hours during port stay.

“The Corvus energy storage system is an important component in our vision for sustainable shipping,” says Andrea D’Ambra, Energy Saving Technical Department at Grimaldi Euromed, a Grimaldi Group company which operates PCTCs (Pure Car & Trucks Carriers), Ro-Ro and passenger ferries in the Mediterranean Sea and Northern Europe.

“An ESS this massive had never before been retrofitted onboard a cruise ferry vessel. It’s clear now that if shipowners are willing to go green, the technology exists,” says Roger Rosvold, Senior Vice President Sales at Corvus Energy. “We are extremely proud to be chosen to supply such a groundbreaking installation.”

“The Grimaldi Group is a highly skilled and experienced shipowner. We are impressed with their commitment to reduce emissions from their operating fleet and their in-depth knowledge on what can be done,” Rosvold continues. “Good collaboration and close partnership are key in developing new and innovative solutions to accelerate the adoption of green technology. At Corvus, we will continue to drive technology further by pushing boundaries for the use of batteries.”

The two projects started with technical teams from Grimaldi and Corvus Energy sailing aboard Cruise Barcelona to evaluate the optimal electrical and mechanical integration of an energy storage system. With the assistance from the Grimaldi on-site team, this challenging project has been successfully completed on budget, on time and on spec.

Ronald Hansen, EVP Service & Aftermarket at Corvus Energy comments, “When we work closely together with the shipowner to clearly understand their operational needs, we can give better advice on the optimal ESS solution.”

Grimaldi’s D’Ambra concurs: “We were impressed not only with Corvus’ battery technology and safety features, but also with the company’s knowledge and competence on mechanical, electrical and power systems for the maritime industry.”

As the leading manufacturer of energy storage systems (ESS) for maritime applications, Corvus offers the innovative Orca ESS solutions portfolio and has unsurpassed experience from 200+ projects, totaling over 200MWh and more than two million operating hours.




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On 7/5/2019 at 12:51 PM, Bill the Science Nerd said:

Impressive analysis.

I think batteries will win out for long haul trucking on cost of hydrogen and lack of supporting infrastructure, but hydrogen could be interesting for air transport certainly. 

Thank you.  I appreciate the compliment. 

If the next generation of batteries are as promised, then I also think batteries will defeat hydrogen in long-haul trucking.  It's looking like 500-700 mile truck range at current vehicle weights with 15 minute recharge is feasible.  I haven't crunched the numbers, but I imagine that'll do it. 

On the other hand, some countries lack indigenous raw materials to make batteries.  I wonder if those countries will play the national security card. 

The cost of hydrogen could also fall, it being tightly correlated to the price of electricity.  Iff (that's not a typo) advanced nuclear and upcoming electrolysis technologies deliver as promised, the price of hydrogen will come down.  I don't know how much - or how feasible that is - but it would come down. 

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ceo, can't you just show the links to your articles? This is a tedious thread to follow.

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Low Sulphur fuels making their way onto the world shipping fuels stage

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Shippers set for IMO 2020 supply complications



Scrubber yards 'way behind schedule'

Scrubber installation has doubled in time

Slow steaming 'inevitable' to cut bunker costs



The shipping industry is gearing up for the challenge of IMO 2020. Some are queuing up for getting scrubbers installed, while the majority are preparing for using low sulfur fuel oil and marine gasoil. Both routes could come at a high price.



The freight market is bracing for supply snags as scrubber bottlenecks and high-cost low sulfur fuels affect the number of ships transporting cargoes including coal, iron ore, crude and oil products, with many big operators spreading the risk between scrubbers and new marine fuels. "With all the delays at scrubber yards and so much uncertainty over fuel costs, it has made sense to share the risk between scrubbers and low sulfur fuels," one ship management company said.

Another executive with a tankers company said: "Owners do not want to put all their eggs in one basket as none is sure about the differential between low and high sulfur marine fuels" early next year.

There is also set to be increased difficulties with handling the new marine fuels, managing more systems on board ships and ensuring getting compliant liquids in ships at smaller ports, all leading to potentially higher freight rates andmarket volatility. Choppy waters are likely to persist at least for the first half of next year no matter the planning, and a trade dispute between the US and China has only added to the risk.

But the challenge around exhaust gas cleaning kits, or scrubbers, has escalated, with several market sources confirming that the next few quarters will see congestion in yards that retrofit the equipment.

"There is going to be a significant impact in the fourth quarter," a research expert at a ship broker said. "Vessels being taken to Chinese repair yards to retrofit scrubbers, especially on larger ships like Cape and Panamax [in the dry bulk market], but these yards are facing technical difficulties which have put them way behind schedule."

"Shipowners are panicking. If the forward curves are correct they could be saving money and instead they could lose out during the first half of 2020", the specialist added, noting that instead of taking three to four weeks to install a scrubber it is taking six to eight weeks.

While scrubber manufacturers are making a very strong pitch to highlight their benefits, not all shipowners are convinced or opting for them. Several tanker owners such as Ardmore Shipping and Euronav have stayed away.

BW Group's Hafnia Tankers is a case in point. It took delivery of its first three of half a dozen LR2s with scrubbersbut the next three will have them installed. It was too late to get them installed in the first three as they were in an advanced stage of production, said an executive tracking the scrubbers market. "There is a marked preference for installingscrubbers in new rather than existing ships and in bigger instead of smaller ships," the executive said.

Close to 70% of VLCCs - the larger ships that transport crude -- under construction and around a quarter of the overall global fleet of this category are expected to have scrubbers, according to shipping industry estimates.

Seventeen VLCCs are undergoing retrofit now, while 128 intend to or have plans to do so, according to the estimates of Straitship Brokers, a Singapore-based shipping brokerage. So far 43 new VLCCs have been delivered with scrubbers, while 30 existing units have been retrofitted, the estimates showed.

That said, scrubbers are likely to be installed in less than 5% of the global merchant fleet by early next year but many market participants expect the concept to become redundant sooner rather than later. When catalytic convertors were introduced in motor vehicles using leaded gasoline, it didn't work, the industry just moved on to unleaded gasoline, said Samir Fernandez of Maersk Oil Trading.


Industry sources highlighted other challenges with scrubbers, not least the introduction of ballast water systems at the same time. "For the guys on board they now have to handle two new systems - ballast water management systems and the scrubber too with a possible requirement for more personnel" a chartering source with a commodity trader said. Ballast water management is another environmental difficulty for shippers to navigate.

"It's a new era of risk and complication," one ship broker said, noting this is especially true for scrubbers given the newness to running, maintaining and repairing them.

There appears little consensus in the industry over the right strategies, with the emergence of a possible two-tier 0.5% sulfur bunker fuel market with the majority of shipowners expected to root for straight run 0.5% over the blended 0.5%sulfur fuel.

Then there are issues as to either cleaning tanks by dry docking for a few days or using chemical cleaning to rid tanks of higher sulfur fuels, which will add some grit to the wheels but won't cause major delays. Indeed, since some are already running and testing clean fuels in their tanks and others have stated they will stop buying dirty fuels by end-October, this may keep delays to a minimum amid fears of vessel failures.

An issue for smaller operators ensuring they can purchase compliant fuels at smaller ports and it remains an open question what sort of wiggle room there will be for operators arriving at the larger ports if they have been unable to secure clean options, sources said. If that starts to emerge ships may face delays as they wait for 0.5% bunker fuels to arrive. Indeed, even larger ports such as Fujairah have been importing larger quantities of low sulfur fuels from Singaporeahead of time. "This could increase waiting time at ports, adding to delays," one broker said.

Tankers could be faced with shortage of compliant fuels from the very beginning at smaller bunkering ports but the main hubs should be safe ports to go to, said Peter Sand, an analyst at key shipping body BIMCO.

But these premium fuels will come at a premium price, meaning smaller ships in particular - Handysizes and Supramaxesin the dry bulk market - will likely reduce speed to save money. One expert said that slowing a ship by one knot could supply costs by 4-5%. While slow steaming is not a new concept it is set to characterize the market for the next few quarters, sources said, given the likely higher rates.



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On 7/5/2019 at 11:42 AM, BenFranklin'sSpectacles said:

Batteries are more efficient than fuel cells, but they're also heavier.  Batteries are set to consume most of the road transport market, including short/medium haul heavy trucking.  As batteries improve, their market share will increase.  However, battery weight and charging time are as yet a problem for long-haul trucking.  That's why Nikola and Toyota are pursuing hydrogen fuel cell trucks.  Resource constraints may also play into this, but I'm skeptical that they'll remain a long-term issue, so I rest my case on issues with battery weight & charging time. 

Aviation could be an interesting market for hydrogen for three reasons:
1)  Fuel cells are more efficient than jet engines.
2)  Hydrogen fuel has the highest specific energy, nuclear excluded. 
3)  Electric motors (fuel cells are just sources of electricity) allow more efficient aircraft designs.
All that adds up to significant weight savings in long-haul aircraft, and weight is king in aviation.  There may be some technical issue I'm not aware of, but I wouldn't be surprised if the aviation community suddenly discovered the wonders of hydrogen. 

I don't see hydrogen in long-haul shipping because the weight advantage matters less there. 

Hydrogen could be stored in caverns the same way natural gas is, but how much storage is available? 

A certain percentage of hydrogen can be incorporated into natural gas and used in any natural gas application, just as ethanol is added to gasoline.  The Germans studied what infrastructure would need to be changed at certain percentages of hydrogen.  I don't remember the details, but the results looked promising.  Basically, natural gas distribution/consumption infrastructure could be slowly converted to hydrogen.  That could have interesting implications for energy markets. 

Most of this hinges on hydrogen prices.  We aren't going to produce vast quantities of hydrogen from renewables because renewables can't deliver high capacity factors.  The enabling technology will be advanced nuclear reactors, which can provide 24/7 electricity at rock-bottom prices to any annual base load.  Hydrogen for transportation, cooking, and industry would be such a load. 

One problem with switching from NG to hydrogen is transport.  LH2 is more expensive to produce & transport than LNG.  Thus, it's unlikely there would be an an international market for LH2 with tankers moving product around the globe.  On the other hand, you can build a nuclear reactor nearly anywhere, so production and demand would simply co-locate.  Advanced nations with the intelligence/discipline/stability to manage nuclear could switch to hydrogen.  Everyone else would be stuck with fossil fuels.  That would have interesting geopolitical implications. 

Dangers and true long term cost of nuclear rules it out for democratic nations. The people do not and should not trust it. They are paying the price for the lies of the nuclear industry right now, and it is getting worse every year!


 Dangers of Nuclear Plants and Radioactive Waste

           ( And the long term costs the public will pay.)

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Total, ZEG sign deal to develop Chinese LSFO market as IMO 2020 looms



France's Total has inked an agreement with Chinese state-owned Zhejiang Energy Group, or ZEG, to accelerate the supply and delivery of low sulfur marine fuels in Zhoushan, China, through a joint venture, Total said Monday.

"This new partnership is fully aligned with our strategy to support and supply our shipping customers wherever they go," said Philippe Charleux, senior VP Lubricants & Specialties of Total. "Providing them with low sulfur fuels fully compliant with IMO [International Maritime Organization] regulation in China will further contribute to the transition towards a sustainable shipping industry," he added.

The agreement follows a memorandum of understanding concluded by Total and ZEG in April to explore opportunities in the supply and distribution of energy in China, it said in a statement.

Total China Investment will hold a 49% share in the new company while Zhejiang Zheneng Petroleum New Energy will hold the remaining, it said.

The IMO will cap global sulfur content in marine fuels at 0.5% starting January 1, 2020, from 3.5% currently. This applies outside the designated emission control areas where the limit is already 0.1%.

Shipowners will be forced to either switch to cleaner, more expensive fuels or install scrubbers.


LSFO is already set to be the chief marine fuel choice as IMO 2020 nears. Its consumption is already gathering pace in key bunkering hubs.

In Singapore, the world's largest bunkering port, for example, volumes of 380 CST high sulfur marine fuel dipped 9.8% year on year in September, latest data from the Maritime and Port Authority showed.

China's LSFO demand is also expected to accelerate due to its implementation of stricter rules. Many of the country's initiatives to curb pollutants from shipping come as part of its 'blue sky' defense action plan and ahead of IMO 2020.

The Ministry of Transport announced in early December the expansion of the emission control areas to China's entire coastline from January 1, compared to the initial area covering Yangtze Delta, Pearl River Delta and Bohai Rim applied to vessels sailing within 12 nautical miles of the coast.

Large vessels are now required to burn 0.5% sulfur bunker fuels while the smaller ones have to consume 10 ppm sulfur bunkers, in line with the National Phase 5 & 6 emissions, when they are in inland waterways, according to the ministry's announcement.

The new policy also requires all ocean-going vessels to use bunker fuel with 0.1% sulfur when they are entering inland waterways areas in China, starting January 1, 2020, S&P Global Platts reported previously.


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Indonesia's wheat importers weigh their options for IMO 2020



As freight rates rise ahead of  IMO2020  , feed buyers and flour millers in Southeast Asia are weighing wheat competitiveness between the major origins.

While IMO 2020 will give Australia an additional freight advantage due to its closer proximity, freight alone may not be enough to restore its competitive edge in Southeast Asia, where buyers have cultivated a taste for cheaper wheat from the Black Sea and Argentina. As a result, the FOB price spreads will be crucial in shaping overall wheat competitiveness in the region.

S&P Global Platts estimates that for Australia to regain its lost market share in the region, the Australian Premium FOB can be at a maximum of $25/mt higher than Black Sea 12.5% protein FOB wheat prices, which is the equivalent of the anticipated freight differential in an IMO 2020 marine fuel compliant environment.

In the last one month, the FOB spread between APW wheat and Black Sea  protein wheat has narrowed by almost $20/mt to $34.25/mt on Thursday.

Prices from the Black Sea have surged by 12% since September 9 to $205.25/mt Thursday, as suppliers bid higher to cover for the Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian demand amid strong farmer retention to hold onto their wheat crop.

Unlike previous years, farmers in the Black Sea are expanding their sales this season and are keen to reap the maximum benefit out of the higher quality wheat that has been harvested.

While Australian wheat prices have also edged up, the extent of the price increase has been milder as they remain uncompetitive in the international market following a third consecutive year of drought.

The Yuzhny, Ukraine to Cigading, Indonesia 50,000 mt grains route was assessed down 50 cents on October 17 to $34.50/mt, S&P Global Platts data showed. However, market participants expect to see the freight rate rise significantly from November onward as cargo inquiry picks up from the Black Sea loading ports.

"The Mediterranean and Black Sea [markets] are softening right now, but that's because there are almost no October cargoes," said one ship operator source. "There are a few more first-half of November stems, and almost all of the offers thus far are for second-half of November."




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