Rare low-sulfur fuel oil delivered to UAE before IMO 2020

Equinor offloaded a rare cargo of very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) from Norway last week at UAE’s Fujairah bunkering hub to meet expected demand from stricter ship fuel emission rules, according to trade sources and shipping data.

The 130,000-tonne cargo has been sold to Saudi Arabia’s Aramco Trading Corp (ATC), said five fuel oil trade sources who declined to be identified due to company policies.

Equinor said it did not comment on specific cargoes. ATC did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

New rules from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) take effect from Jan. 1, capping the sulfur content of shipping fuel at 0.5% from 3.5% now, unless vessels use exhaust-cleaning scrubbers.

The rare shipment is one of the new trade flows for the residue fuel as traders stock up on VLSFO supplies at major bunkering hubs to meet an expected surge in demand next year.

“This is the first VLSFO parcel we’ve seen from Mongstad (to Fujairah),” said Ranjith Raja, head of oil research at Refinitiv for Middle East and North Africa.

Suezmax tanker Cap Diamant loaded on Oct. 10 the VLSFO cargo at Mongstad port where Equinor’s refinery is located and the ship discharged its cargo at Fujairah last week, shipping data on Refinitiv Eikon showed.

The tanker was chartered by Equinor, according to a shipping report.

The cargo consisted of VLSFO with 0.472% sulfur and the oil has a viscosity of 160-centistoke and 0.933 density, the sources said. (Reporting by Roslan Khasawneh; Additional reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis in OSLO and Rania El Gamal in DUBAI; Writing by Florence Tan; Editing by Edmund Blair and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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