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India: ‘Oil majors ready with very low sulphur fuels for shipping industry’

State-run oil companies Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation (HPC) are gearing up to meet the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) deadline of ships using fuel oil with very low content of sulphur from January 1, 2020. They use what is called in common man’s parlance – furnace oil, which has a high level of sulphur that is a major air pollutant.

IOC Executive Director P. Jayadevan told shipping companies on Monday that it has already positioned very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) with 0.5 % sulphur content in western ports in the country.

Speaking at a regional seminar on IMO 2020 sulphur implementation cap and impact on Indian waters organised here by Mercantile Marine Department (MMD), he said VLSFO would be available in a week’s time at ports along the eastern coast. Depending on the demand, in some ports, the company will ensure availability of sufficient quantity of both low and high sulphur content fuel oil until conversion of ships happen completely, Mr. Jayadevan added.

HPCL’s Amit Kote said that his company too would be producing 5,000-10,000 tonnes of straight run fuels from the first week of November per month initially. Its Mumbai and Vishakapatnam refineries would produce VLSFO.

Principal Officer-cum-Joint Director General of Shipping (tech), MMD, Ajithkumar Sukumaran explained the need for reduction in sulphur content in marine fuel. Since ships burn the cheapest, high-sulphur fuel – the thick residues left behind in refineries, they emit large quantities of nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide. They are permitted to burn fuel containing up to 3.5% sulphur, which is 3,500 times more than is allowed in car fuel in the European Union,” he said.

Mr. Sukumaran also said that according to Brussels-based Transport and Environment group, air pollution from international shipping accounted for around 50,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone.
Source: The Hindu

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