Merchant ships around the world are required to change fuel in order to reduce the amount of sulfur emitted, according to new rules set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

In 2020, global fleet of merchant ships will have to reduce drastically how much sulfur their engines emit. Even though it means a lot of benefits for our environment, like diminishing the threat of acid rain, and including helping asthma sufferers, there is a $60 billion little issue behind this.That’s the estimate to be spent each year by some vessels on low sulfur fuel to comply with new emission rules that start in 2020.

As a result, more than 90,000 ships, handling around 90 percent of global trade, will be affected. Possible confusion over which carriers comply with the new rules might cause some obstacles to vessels and even stop them from making deliveries. The most shocking treat of all this situation is that oil refiners still don’t have enough capacity to supply all the fuel that would be needed.

That being said, there two possible coming alternatives. The scrubbing technology, which could cost around $4 million per engine, depending on its size, and switch to using a mix of lower-sulfur fuel oil or more-expensive middle distillates. The compliant technical options are still very immature to start thinking of it as a reality.

Some big companies of the industry, like Maersk, thinks “… it is hard for us to see them as a real compliance option for our fleet”. Others, like Wood Mackenzie, estimates about 70 percent of global compliance by 2020 and full compliance by 2025 after a transition period

Iain Mowat, a senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie said neither the refining industry nor shipping is doing anywhere near enough for owners to achieve compliance in 2020. “Ship owners are reluctant to install scrubbers to continue using the same oil because of uncertainties and lack of funding … And most refineries won’t invest to convert heavy fuel because that will cost more than $1 billion and take about five years to complete.”

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