Indonesia U-turns on sulphur cap

One of Indonesia's largest ports Pelindo-Tanjung Priok container terminals. Credit: IPC

Indonesia has elected to implement the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) January 2020 sulphur cap and March 2020 carriage ban on schedule, representing a U-turn over its former policy.

Previously, the government of Indonesia indicated that it would wait until surpluses of heavy fuel oil at its oil refineries, set to be used domestically, had been depleted. Local energy company Pertamina reported that large supplies of 3.5% sulphur heavy fuel oil were available, and that with so few vessels operating scrubbers, it would be difficult to find a use for these supplies once the sulphur cap entered force.

Elsewhere, concerns abound regarding the surpluses of residual fuel that will be generated owing to an increasing need for the higher, distillate fuel fractions. Experts worry that more crude will need to be processed at refineries overall for the purpose; relatively few refineries are equipped with a coker or the necessary equipment to crack the long-chain hydrocarbons in residual oil into further useful fractions.