ShippingWatch

Shipowners fear engine failures as industry forced to upgrade fuel

Shipping companies and trade groups say the shift to low-sulfur fuel types could also create a safety risk as ships' engines could be damaged by accidentally mixing incompatible products.

Photo: Bloomberg

Add oil tankers breaking down at sea to the list of things shipping companies are worrying about as they brace for a once-in-a-generation overhaul to the kind of fuel the industry must consume.

From Jan. 1, 2020, the vast majority of the world's merchant fleet will have to use fuel containing no more than 0.5 percent sulfur, down from 3.5 percent in most parts of the world today. The change is expected to upend both shipping and refining industries, with analysts forecasting higher oil prices, slower-sailing ships, and some observers even warning of risks to world trade.

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