Information posted on the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) website indicates that 29 of Singapore’s 45 licensed bunker suppliers have 0.50% sulphur fuel oil ‘available now’ and all but two have IMO 2020-compliant marine gasoil (MGO) – and yet there are still reports in the media that some shipowners are struggling because of a ‘lack of low sulphur fuel’.
The MPA’s list on suppliers’ availability currently showing on the website is described as ‘Correct as at 15 Jan 2020’ so one assumes it should reflect the latest official information, but there are still reports of delays in barge deliveries and a report published by Tradewinds today has claimed that a lack of compliant product has left Pacific International Lines ships stuck in Singapore with ‘six box ships delayed by up to three weeks due to issues with suppliers’.
In the run-up to the 1 January 2020 global sulphur cap introduction, Bunkerspot – in common with most commentators – predicted the major bunkering hubs would probably cope reasonably well with the change-over, but smaller ports might struggle with product availability. It is still to be seen if the confidence over Singapore and other big bunkering centres has been fully vindicated, but the misgivings for some of the more out-of-the-way markets appear justified.
In India, for example, reports in the Hindu Business Line and other media have claimed that a lack of IMO 2020-compliant fuel threatens to bring coastal shipping operations on the East Coast to halt – even though the country’s biggest refiner, Indian Oil Corp (IOC), started supplying VLSFO in October and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd (HPCL) announced on 3 January that it was now providing the 0.50% sulphur fuel too.
In Egypt, meanwhile, there is said to be very limited availability of compliant fuel and reports published by The Loadstar and other media outlets have claimed that the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has issued a circular saying it puts ‘no restrictions on fuel oil’ for ships using the canal ‘until ratification of MARPOL Annex VI’ by Egypt.