The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialised agency within the United Nations that regulates international shipping. Its responsibilities include ensuring the safety and security of shipping and mitigating marine and atmospheric pollution. IMO 2020, which came into full effect on 1 January 2020, placed a new 0.5% cap on the sulphur content in marine fuels, a significant reduction from the previous 3.5% limit. The new specification created short and longer-term challenges for refiners to meet the market demand for the new low sulphur marine fuel, sufficiently remove the incremental sulphur and manage excess heavy molecules removed from the new fuel grade.
Shell Catalysts & Technologies works with customers to identify strategic, low-capex opportunities to meet stringent product specifications in compliance with IMO 2020. For example, Shell’s deep-flash technology lifts better quality vacuum gas oil (VGO) from the vacuum distillation unit to reduce high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) production. Similarly, revamping a hydrocracker converts heavier molecules to lighter, more valuable streams while reducing HSFO production by almost 50%. In addition to process improvements, Shell Catalysts & Technologies’ broad catalyst portfolio includes solutions for desulphurising cuts from the heaviest resid to the lighter gas oils required for blending or generated through a desired molecular shift. Collectively. Shell Catalysts & Technologies has the solutions and the know-how to address refiners’ challenges with compliance to IMO 2020.