As we head into the second quarter of 2020, many experts are keeping their eyes on the results of the IMO’s low-sulfur mandate, which took effect January 1. Among the factors they’re examining include the supply of low-sulfur diesel fuel, which has the potential to significantly impact ocean freight pricing.

Whether you’re just getting up to speed on the low-sulfur mandate—or you’re one of those people keeping the pulse on this issue—we’ve put together a list of the best resources we’ve found online. Use these links to stay on top of this emerging issue. By doing so, you’ll be well-positioned to make the business decisions that keep your supply chain moving smoothly and protect your bottom line.

The Bottom Line: Who Is the IMO? And How Will the Low-Sulfur Mandate Impact Shipping?

Get a strong handle on the International Maritime Organization, the specifics of the low-sulfur mandate and how it could affect both the shipping industry and our environment. These background resources will get you started:

“Sulphur 2020: Cutting Sulphur Oxide Emissions:” Discover the fundamental elements of the low-sulfur mandate and explore the beneficial environmental changes it was designed to create. It’s all in this primer, straight from the agency that created the mandate, the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

“IMO 2020: How the Low-Sulfur Mandate Will Affect the Shipping Industry—and Your Business:” In this article from our blog, we’ll run you through exactly what you need to know to get up to speed. We’ll also discuss how the low-sulfur mandate may affect ocean freight rates in 2020.

“The Big Shipping Shake-Up:” This extensive infographic from the Visual Capitalist offers an excellent walk-through of all the issues at stake, laid out in an easy-to-scan visual format.

2020 Update: IMO Impact Reports

This series of resources re-evaluate the potential effects of the IMO’s low-sulfur mandate, based on the results of the first weeks of the year. Although the full impact still remains to be seen, use these resources to get a few real-world evaluations of the issue as it stands in Q1 of 2020:

“IMO 2020 Update: The Impact We’ve Seen So Far:” We talked to our ocean freight experts to get their take on the day-to-day of the IMO mandate on ocean freight pricing and fuel surcharges. We’ll also share our predictions for the rest of 2020 to help you prepare.

“Spotlight: IMO 2020 Officially Came into Force January 1, But Has Already Disrupted Markets and Operations:” If you want to take a deep dive into how the IMO is affecting fuel markets, check out this in-depth spotlight article from S&P Global Platts.

What’s Next?

Now that the deadline has passed, experts continue to evaluate the changing conditions in order to project potential effects for the rest of the year—and beyond. From our research, it’s clear that the low-sulfur mandate will continue to be a hot topic with the potential to impact global shipping. Check out these resources, and keep an eye on our blog for additional updates as the year progresses:

“IMO 2020: Debunkering Deadline Looms:” U.K. law firm Hill Dickinson suggests that there may still be some hiccups to come with the low-sulfur regulations, according to MarineLog. Reports of sediment within some of the low-sulfur blends and questions about enforcement are among some of the concerns. Additionally, any bunkered high-sulphur fuels must be de-bunkered by March 1, which may cause additional ripples, they suggest.

“US Updates IMO 2020 Enforcement Policy:” The US Coast Guard issued new guidelines for ensuring compliance with the IMO low-sulphur mandate within U.S. waters. As the Coast Guard begins to enforce the mandate, it will be worth keeping an eye on compliance rates and any resulting fines.

“Maritime Air Pollution Conference Focuses on IMO 2020:” IMO 2020 is on the agenda for March’s Maritime Air Pollution Conference. The keynote speaker, Nicholas Makar, SVP for regulatory affairs at International Registries, Inc. (IRI), will reflect on the Q1 effects of the regulation.



Concerned About How the IMO Low-Sulfur Mandate Could Affect Your Ocean Freight Rates?    Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our Approved ocean freight experts. They’re keeping an eye on rates in Pacific shipping lanes as well as international ones. They’d be happy to talk with you about what they’re seeing and help you make any additions or changes to your ocean freight budget.

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