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A major shipping change is coming, and so are higher fuel prices

In less than two weeks, the IMO's global sulfur regulations take effect, forcing shipping companies to lower their ships' sulfur emissions. The regulations will have a profound impact on the industry as a whole and could increase the cost of global seaborne trade.

Photo: RUSSELL BOYCE/REUTERS / X00036

A defining moment in the history of the oil-refining and shipping industries is at hand.

In fewer than two weeks, thousands of ships the world over will be forced to use fuel containing less sulfur in order to comply with global rules set out by the International Maritime Organization. Those who don't could face penalties and even imprisonment. Ports are deploying drones to – literally – sniff out wrongdoers. The regulations are having a profound effect on oil refineries and the cost of seaborne trade looks set to rise.

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