Over the next two to three years, regulatory pressure will drive up the demand for low sulfur fuel products, according to DNV Petroleum Services, which has released the findings of a survey it has conducted. Already, 40 percent of the survey respondents said that availability of low sulfur fuel was a problem in 2010, and about 35 percent said they were short-supplied during deliveries, according to DNV. In addition, 94 percent encountered problems such as off-specification fuel quality that in some cases also led to clogging of filters, followed by sludging, fuel pump sticking and seizures, as well as piston ring failures.

DNV said the survey was conducted globally, with 50 percent of the responders being in technical departments, 15 percent in operations and 18 percent representing management. About 60 percent were involved in fuel purchasing. And some 73 percent have ships trading in ECAs.