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Indian Shippers assured of low-sulphur fuel supply & relaxed regulations

The Indian shipping community, which is preparing for the global ban on carrying and burning of fuels with sulphur content higher than 0.5 per cent in ships, received two assurances recently.

One is related to a more relaxed enforcement regime in the first few months of next year, owing to the uncertainty over the level of preparedness of the industry in dealing with the change, and the other from Indian oil companies that they are ready to supply the required low sulphur fuel. 

We won’t go just by the letter of the law: Deputy Nautical Advisor at the Mercantile Marine Department

 With the mandate scheduled to kick in on January 1, 2020, Captain SIAK Azad, Deputy Nautical Advisor at the Mercantile Marine Department, said that the regulator’s priority in the first few months will be Ease of Doing Business. “Trust and common sense will be applied and we won’t go just by the letter of the law,” he addressed the gathering of nearly 100 people at the regional seminar on ‘IMO Sulphur Cap 2020 – Implementation and its Impact in Indian Waters’, conducted in Chennai.

 Technical compatibility

The sulphur cap has thrown the shipping world into heightened activity with oil companies and refiners across the world upgrading their infrastructure to supply low sulphur fuels in adequate quantities to ships to avoid disruptions in ship movement. There have, however, been fears over the technical compatibility of the new fuels with shipboard equipment. In the recent past, stringent mandates in the US regarding sulphur led to the use of blended fuels that damaged equipment onboard. Ships had to be stopped mid-seas for repairs near the Americas.  

All the ports in the West Coast have already stocked this fuel 

Anil Vasu, Chief Technical Service Manager of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, said that the total bunker fuel requirement in India is around 1.7 million tonnes per year, largely supplied by State-owned companies. Out of this, some 0.965 mmtpa is high sulphur furnace oil, while the rest is distillate fuel. “The IOC’s refinery in Koyali alone has built enough capacity in the last one year to supply 1.0 mmtpa,” he said. All the ports in the West Coast have already stocked this fuel. Eastern ports would receive stocks in the coming weeks, he said. 

Another IOC refinery in Haldia will soon be ready to roll out compliant fuel. IOC has had a market share of 60 per cent in ship bunker in India.

 

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