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Vopak plans chemical storage expansions; IMO 2020 capacity nearly complete

London — Tank storage company Royal Dutch Vopak has delivered most of its fuel oil capacity conversions for IMO 2020 and will expand chemical product storage capacity in Belgium, Mexico and China, the company said Monday.

"Most of the fuel oil capacity conversions for IMO 2020 bunker fuels have been delivered and support revenues as from Q4 2019," the company said in a presentation accompanying its third-quarter interim report.

Year-on-year declines in occupancy rates in Europe and Africa and in Asia and the Middle East in Q3 2019 reflect temporary IMO conversion, the company said.

The bunker industry is readying itself for a tougher sulfur cap in marine fuel, which will come into force January 1, 2020, as decreed by the International Maritime Organization. The maximum limit on sulfur that can be emitted from a ship's exhaust on the high seas will fall to 0.5% from its current level of 3.5%.

This has caused concerns about cross-contamination in-tank, with implications for storage operators such as Vopak.

Occupancy rates in Europe and Africa in Q3 2019 were 84%, compared with 86% in Q3 2019, Vopak said. In the Middle East and Asia, occupancy rates fell from 85% in Q3 2018 to 71% in the corresponding period in 2019.

Looking ahead, Vopak announced it will expand Linkeroever terminal in Antwerp, with 50,000 cu m for chemical products. The additional storage capacity is expected to be commissioned mid-2021, the company said in a statement.

Additionally, Vopak will expand its Altamira terminal in Mexico, with 40,000 cubic meters for chemical products. The expansion will facilitate the growing import of chemical products in Mexico and is expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2021, Vopak said.

Vopak will also develop a joint-venture industrial terminal to provide storage and handling services for the chemical manufacturing plants in the Qinzhou Chemical Park in Southwest China, along with partners Shanghai Huayi Group Investment Co and Guangxi Qinzhou Linhai Industrial Investment Co.

This industrial terminal, in which Vopak will hold a 51% share, will have an initial capacity of 290,000 cu m and is expected to be commissioned in mid-2021.

--Tom Washington, thomas.washington@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com