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Monique B Vermeire, Fuel Technologist of Marine & Powergen at Chevron, is an expert in the marine fuel industry. Since 2004, she has been in charge of all global technology support for marine distillate and residual fuels to Chevron Marine Products and Chevron’s powergen business. Since 2011, Monique is the Convenor of the ISO Classification and Specification of Marine Fuels Working Group, and represents Chevron in other industry organisations such as IPIECA and EI.

Can you give us a brief background about yourself? 
I began working for Texaco in 1987 supervising the analytical laboratory and handling special product quality related projects. This was a unique experience to get to learn the different products a petroleum company is manufacturing and selling i.e. fuels, lubricants, additives. This is also because when saying Texaco, most people know the brand from the service stations where they buy the gasoline, diesel for their car. Less people are aware that also coolants technology can be part of the business.  It was in the early 2000’s that the focus on the environmental aspects of shipping was growing and I got involved in it through several petroleum industry associations. Since 2004, I am in charge of all global technology support for marine distillate and residual fuels to Chevron Marine Products and Chevron’s powergen business.

What are some of the themes that you’re looking to address during your presentation about the global regional outlook for this sector? 
Since my responsibility is mainly in the technical aspects of fuels for shipping, I will address global fuel quality, product availability and potential emerging issues as a result of the changing sulphur regulations.

How critical are such themes for the development of this field? 
Very critical. More than 85 % of international trade is by shipping, and fuels represent a significant part of seaborne transportation costs. Higher fuel oil prices most likely will be transferred on to the end-user or when not economical anymore, companies may decide to stop some of their services. Demand for lower sulphur fuels, which will probably be mostly distillate type of fuel oils, will impact the supply demand balance especially in those regions where there is already a shortage for diesel type products.
Very critical. More than 85 % of international trade is by shipping, and fuels represent a significant part of seaborne transportation costs. Higher fuel oil prices most likely will be transferred on to the end-user or when not economical anymore, companies may decide to stop some of their services. Demand for lower sulphur fuels, which will probably be mostly distillate type of fuel oils, will impact the supply demand balance especially in those regions where there is already a shortage for diesel type products.

What are the potential opportunities for businesses operating in this sector?
The unprecedented future sulphur regulations, especially the 0.50 % sulphur max limit by 2020 or 2025, call for a shift away from residual fuel oils to distillate type products and will require significant investments to increase the availability of the required fuel oil. Investments to be made either by the refining industry or by the ship owners as these may also choose to use alternative technologies to comply with the regulations.  Suppliers may look into new blending components but also terminals will have to consider tank storage, taking into consideration, increased demand for lower sulphur (mostly distillate) fuel oils. Another important aspect is that operating on a different type of fuel oil may eventually also require shifting to a different lubricant for the engine.

What are some of the best methods by which companies can comply with international Maritime Organisation (IMO)?
Companies should explore the different options to comply with the regulations for their specific type of operations, age of ship and trading pattern.  As for existing ships and ships still to be built, ship owners and operators need to consider not only the lower sulphur requirement in Emission Controlled Areas but also the looming 2020 or 2025 global requirement. In any case, collecting information on which fuel is available in a specific port will be essential as it may be that not all ports supply all types of fuels anymore.

What is the impact of the new sulphur regulations and how can companies follow these new rules?
New sulphur legislation will impact supply demand balance because ships will have to switch between residual and distillate fuels when entering ECA zone whereas until now, switching was mostly between residual fuel oils with different sulphur levels. The handling of residual fuel oil versus a distillate fuel oil on board a ship is different, and may require the crew to watch more carefully the engine operation.  Furthermore, in some regions, when no low sulphur distillate marine fuel is available, it may be that automotive type fuel is delivered that may contain biodiesel. Housekeeping of distillate fuels, especially when containing biodiesel, will also become very important as distillate fuels are more susceptible to microbiological contamination.  Ordering the correct fuel is the responsibility of the ship whilst the supplier is responsible for the quality of the fuel delivered as set in the commercial contractual agreement between customer and supplier.

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