Serenade of the Seas in Halifax

ExxonMobil has announced the findings of a survey concluding that the IMO 2020 0.5 percent sulfur cap is unclear to many vessel operators.

Results highlighted an ongoing sense of confusion and lack of preparedness, the company stated, with 70 percent of respondents saying that they do not believe the industry is ready for the deadline. Thus, the makeup of the marine fuel mix in 2020 and beyond is a clear area of concern, with wide-ranging views from the industry on how the landscape will evolve.

Thirty-two percent of those surveyed predict that a combination of heavy fuel oil, marine gas oil and fuels and blends will be used, while 69 percent believe the cap will lead to the development of new low sulfur fuels.

“At ExxonMobil we expect that new 0.5% fuel formulations will emerge, based on low sulfur refinery streams, in addition to novel fuel blends,” said Iain White, global marine marketing manager.

The cost implications of the cap were also highlighted as a potential challenge; with 53 percent of respondents predicting an increase in fuel spend.

When asked about the uptake of LNG, 31 percent of respondents believe there will be a growth in its adoption as a marine fuel. These findings align with ExxonMobil’s previous predictions that by 2040 global LNG consumption will rise to more than two and a half times the 2015 level.

Forty-five percent of respondents predict an increased investment in abatement technologies (scrubbers). However, only 11 percent said they were actively looking to install a scrubber before 2020, with 40 percent citing a lack of economic clarity as a reason for forgoing investment.

“The results of this survey show that that we are heading to a multi-fuel future and that there is not one obvious fuel solution that will apply to all vessels,” said White.