Monday, April 16, 2018

Rich Rewards Await Top Oil Refiners as Ships Make Low Sulphur Switch Fuel

This is a pretty big deal that's been on the horizon* for a while but hasn't gotten much notice outside the shipping industry and the specialist press until recently.
From Bloomberg via gCaptain:
Ready the cash-printing machines — the world’s most sophisticated refineries are about to enjoy great times thanks to what might seem like a minor tweak in rules for the type of fuel ships consume.
From 2020, vessels must buy fuel with less sulfur, or alternatively be fitted with equipment to curb emissions of the pollutant. One thing is clear: only a tiny fraction of the merchant fleet will have such gear when the rules enter force, since many shipowners argue it’s the responsibility of refineries to sell the right fuel.

That’s fantastic news for complex plants, including some of the biggest on the U.S. Gulf Coast, in Europe and in Asia. Unlike simpler refineries, they can already make marine gasoil — a distillate fuel similar to diesel that ships are going to need — without churning out leftover, non-compliant fuel oil, according to Alan Gelder, vice president for refining, chemicals and oil markets at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. in London.

“They’ll print money,” he said. “If the shipping industry needs more clean fuels, then that’s good for refining.”

The new sulfur standards, established by the International Maritime Organization in 2016, aim to cut the presence of a pollutant that has been blamed as a contributor to human health conditions like asthma and environmental damage like acid rain. Some shippers say that in an extreme scenario, the changes could upend world trade if the cost of compliance is too high.

The existing global standard is generally 3.5 percent sulfur in fuel oil — normally the residue when refineries make higher-value products like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. The new IMO rules establish a 0.5 percent limit, encouraging refiners to make cleaner, compliant fuel to meet rising demand from the shipping industry.

‘Field Day’
Plants that have greater flexibility on the types of crude that they process — such as Reliance Industries Ltd.’s Jamnagar facility in India and those on the U.S. Gulf Coast — will be among the top beneficiaries from the rule change, said Eugene Lindell, a senior analyst at JBC Energy GmbH in Vienna....MORE
Speaking of horizons and speculation here's part of "Adam Smith on Speculation as Witchcraft' (now with Voodoo Beach Bunnies)":

...One etymology of the word speculation:
c.1374, "contemplation, consideration," from O.Fr. speculation, from L.L. speculationem (nom. speculatio) "contemplation, observation," from L. speculatus, pp. of speculari "observe," from specere "to look at, view" (see scope (1)). Disparaging sense of "mere conjecture" is recorded from 1575. Meaning "buying and selling in search of profit from rise and fall of market value" is recorded from 1774; short form spec is attested from 1794. Speculator in the financial sense is first recorded 1778. Speculate is a 1599 back-formation.
That is not the etymology grandmother taught me. Hers had to do with Italian merchants keeping watchtowers manned to spot sails over the horizon, enabling those who could see furthest to sell off inventory before goods-ladened ships made harbor and crashed the market. More like this etymology at Wictionary:
From Latin speculātus, past participle of speculor (look out), from specula (watchtower), from specio (look at)
Either way, the current market does not lend itself to either contemplation or seeing over the horizon....

If you are curious about the Voodoo Beach Bunnies, I was answering the question posed in "Death of the American Dream? (nah)":