KBC discusses IMO’s 2020 Legislation at ERTC

KBC, the leading technology-based consultancy, will be presenting at this year’s ERTC conference about the new IMO sulphur bunker fuel regulation. Joris Mertens, Senior Staff Consultant at KBC will be discussing the global specification that requires oil businesses to reduce their sulphur fuel consumption by 0.5% and the impact this will have on the shipping and refining industries.

The news on the regulation caught everyone by surprise since industries are now expected to meet these demands by 2020 instead of 2025. Specifically, in October 2016, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) confirmed that ship owners and refiners need to drastically reduce their sulphur fuel production from 3.5% to 0.5% by 2020 while earlier it was expected that the step change reduction would only apply from 2025 onwards.

Mr. Mertens observes that a large number of businesses are not yet properly equipped for this transition and will need to revisit their business models. Therefore, the IMO’s decision puts pressure on these businesses to put an immediate plan of action in place in order to meet the necessary deadline. This will also affect them financially and businesses incapable to adjust may face the risk of closing down.

Addressing these issues at ERTC, Mr. Mertens will explain how the fuel market and bunker fuel market will look like in 2020 and how to approach this regulation. In addition, he will highlight the different factors that need to be taken into consideration before embracing this plan. One key factor impacting this decision will be the location of the refinery as this will determine the future prices and availability of crude oil in the market. Another factor is the complexity of the refinery, and lastly the amount of investment that businesses can afford to make.

KBC will also touch upon the impact on the value of intermediate refinery products and mention different investment strategies that refineries can apply to achieve the IMO 2020 goal.

Apart from the challenges, the IMO 2020 regulation will carry various opportunities for some refineries. For instance, businesses able to produce on-purpose motor fuels (components low in sulphur) will not have to worry about the price hike in the market due to high demand. Mr. Mertens will explore similar examples at the conference.

KBC, with its exhaustive experience within the energy and chemical industries, will be able to provide a more independent and efficient proposal for refiners on this issue. KBC provides consultation and market studies, offers preliminary brainstorming and high level discussion for an easier selection of strategy tailored to the clients’ needs.

Mr. Mertens is looking to inspire and encourage more companies to proactively look at their businesses and the steps they will need to take to meet the sulphur fuel legislations. His talk at ERTC is scheduled for 14th November 2017.



Joris Mertens

Senior Staff Consultant, KBC


Joris has 25 years of experience in oil refining and currently works as a Senior Staff Consultant, specializing in the hydroprocessing and hydrogen production/optimization area. More recently, he has been involved in strategic projects in the energy and petrochemical industries, reviewing and improving companies' operation through three main work streams: technical, organizational and training.

Joris has also received a vast understanding on the international market having worked in the development of an innovative model of a

petrochemical complex in the Middle East; participated as a hydroprocessing specialist in a performance improvement study for

Middle-Eastern, Mediterranean, and French refineries; and modelled hydrogen plants and hydroprocessing units for different clients in Asia, Europe, and Middle East.

Additionally, he as authored several articles on the impact of greenhouse gas legislation on the refining industry and greenhouse gas emission mitigation strategies for the refining industry.

He was also worked for seven years at Fina (now Total) in a variety of technical roles.

Joris holds a diploma in Chemical Engineering from the University of Ghent and a postgraduate degree in Economics from the University of Antwerp.

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