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The journey to 2020  

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has mandated a global 0.50 per cent cap on the maximum level of sulphur in marine fuel. This new cap represents a significant reduction – down from the current 3.50 per cent limit – and presents the marine industry with a new challenge to remain compliant. 

Starting on Jan. 1, 2020, vessel operators will need to use a compliant fuel, or have a scrubber fitted if they wish to continue burning high-sulphur fuel oil. This ruling does not affect Emission Control Areas (ECAs), where a 0.10 per cent sulphur fuel cap will still be required.

ExxonMobil anticipates that the vast majority of the industry will choose a low-sulphur fuel to meet the new IMO cap. However, there is no single route to compliance. Options include:

  • Low-sulphur distillates such as marine gas oil (MGO)
  • New low-sulphur fuels
  • Premium Emission Control Area (ECA) fuels
  • The continued use of high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) in conjunction with a scrubber
  • Liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)

Operators will need to make their decisions on a vessel-by-vessel basis. Determining the most effective option will be based on an evaluation of factors such as vessel type, route, age and engine. ExxonMobil will also supply a complementary range of cylinder and engine oils. These will include:

  • Mobilgard™ 540, a new 40 BN formulation for vessels using low-sulphur fuels
  • A high-BN cylinder oil for vessels using a scrubber
  • An ultra-low-BN grade for vessels using LNG
Successful compliance with the IMO emission regulation requires more than fuel selection – preparation for the switchover is also essential. Initially, some fuel types may be scarce, so vessel operators will need to plan their bunkering in advance as we move from the simpler age of fuel procurement to the age of fuel management in 2020 and beyond. As a result of fuel choice, operators will need to change cylinder and engine oil selection as well.
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Insights from industry leaders

With little more than 12 months until the IMO 0.50 per cent sulphur regulation comes into force, ExxonMobil is bringing the industry together. In our Talking Points series, we speak with marine experts about 2020-focused topics including routes to compliance, fuel solutions and more.

Check out the playlist feature to watch the first two videos in the Talking Points series, shot at the Ports of Hamburg and Southampton.

ExxonMobil’s Field Engineering Services (FES) team

ExxonMobil’s fuels and lubricants offer is supported by our Field Engineering Services (FES) team. Their in-depth marine experience and product knowledge can help you safely and efficiently transition to a low-sulphur future. We also offer a range of value-added services including Mobil Serv℠ Cylinder Condition Monitoring, our next-generation used oil analysis service, which can help vessel operators spot engine and cylinder oil issues before they become costly problems.
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