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Shell conducts 19 successful VLSFO trials with shipowners as IMO 2020 looms

Singapore — Global oil major Shell on Monday said it had carried out 19 successful trials of the 0.5% sulfur fuel oil with shipowners at key ports globally, and will be carrying out further trials in New Orleans, Rotterdam, and Singapore.

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This comes as less than eight months remain for the International Maritime Organization's global sulfur limit rule for marine fuels. The IMO will cap global sulfur content in marine fuels at 0.5% from January 1, 2020, down from the current 3.5%. That will apply outside designated emission control areas where the limit is already 0.1%.

Shipowners will have to burn cleaner, more expensive fuels or install scrubber units for burning high sulfur fuel oil to comply with the rule.

Shell said in a statement that all trials showed that with the correct preparation, the fuels performed well in the engine, crews were comfortable using them and changeovers between grades did not result in any extra workload for the engine crew.

"Alongside our marine fuels business, Shell Shipping & Maritime has carried out a successful trial of the new fuel on one of our own vessels, the Silver Carolyn, in Singapore," Grahaeme Henderson, head of global shipping and maritime at Shell, said.

Fuel suppliers need to adjust crude diets, segregate lower sulfur streams and prepare logistics to protect the integrity of the different sulfur grades to gear up for the new rule, Shell said.

Shipowners must develop ship implementation plans to identify fuel grades and quantities needed, Shell said, adding that it was also partnering with its customers to help them better understand aspects relating to compatibility, storage, handling, and changeover requirements ahead of the implementation of the IMO 2020 rule.

Last month, Shell announced the launch of Shell Alexia 40, a new two-stroke engine cylinder oil specifically for use with engines running on VLSFO. It will be available in Singapore from June 1, 2019, and at other main supply ports from July 1, 2019, it said.

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

-- Edited by Shashwat Pradhan, newsdesk@spglobal.com