The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) decision to slash sulfur emission from ships as of 2020, confirmed last October, carries implications that go well beyond the shipping industry and could send shockwaves through crude and product markets, the refining industry, and LNG and gas markets, among others. As the deadline nears, the path to compliance is only getting foggier, as the costs and benefits of the various options available to shippers to meet the new standards—switching to lower-sulfur fuel oil, converting to LNG, or scraping emissions with on-board abatement systems—vary greatly depending on how much of the fleet adopts them. This incentivizes industry participants to delay their plans for meeting the standards, at the risk of running out of time—and thus only heightens the already high chances of noncompliance. To shed light on these complex issues and assess the market’s preparedness, the Center on Global Energy Policy, in partnership with Axelrod Energy Projects and the Royal United Services Institute, gathered a select group of senior energy leaders from the public and private sectors for a roundtable conversation in London on February 20, 2017. Dr. Edmund Hughes, Head of Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency at the IMO, keynoted the meeting. The following is a summary of some of the points touched upon in the discussion, which was held under the Chatham House rule, except for Dr. Hughes’s remarks, which he agreed to make public.
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