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UK's Propeller Fuels plans further growth of bunker operations in Ireland

UK-based marine fuel supplier Propeller Fuels is eyeing further expansion in Ireland after recently extending its bunker supply operations to ports in Northern Ireland and the northern part of the Republic of Ireland, a company spokesman said this week.

"We do intend to cover the rest of the Republic of Ireland at some point in the very near future; plans are well underway for this to happen," the spokesman said in an emailed statement to S&P Global Platts.

"We have selected the right strategic partners to work with ,which are able to offer service levels to our exacting standards, including our shareholder Nicholl Fuel Oils," he added.

This comes after the company said recently that it was catering to the ports of Belfast, Carrickfergus, Larne, Londonderry, Warrenpoint, Greenore and Dundalk after its latest expansion, again in conjunction with Nicholl Fuel Oils.

Propeller Fuels currently supplies marine fuels to its customers via road tankers, the spokesman said. "We have no immediate plans to take on any bunker barges. However we are looking at projects which could make [it happen]," he added.

The company has supplied only marine gasoil to date and plans to continue focusing solely on MGO post-2020 for its physical deliveries, he said.

This comes as the International Maritime Organization's global sulfur limit for marine fuels looms from next January. The IMO will cap global sulfur content in marine fuels at 0.5% from January 1, 2020, down from the current 3.5%. This applies outside the designated emission control areas where the limit is already 0.1%.

Ship owners will have to either burn cleaner, more expensive fuels or install scrubber units for burning high sulfur fuel oil.

"We are hoping that the 2020 legislation change will deliver increased demand for MGO throughout the UK & Ireland for MGO, leading to increased volumes and profits for Propeller Fuels," the company spokesman said.

Propeller Fuels provides a MARPOL compliant service, supplying ISO 8217 grades at all of its delivery locations, and is affiliated with UK oil distributor Oil NRG. It commenced supplying to the northeast UK market in late 2017.

The service is supported by the resources of Oil NRG, including over 80 trucks and five operating fuel depots, the company said in a separate statement.

Propeller expanded its services to the rest of the UK over 2018 and early 2019, driven in part by Oil NRG's acquisition of southern UK-based Conquest Oil, coupled with its own organic growth, it added.

--Surabhi Sahu, surabhi.sahu@spglobal.com

--Edited by Wendy Wells, newsdesk@spglobal.com