A new report claims the Red Sea crisis is having a knock-on effect on compliance with low-sulphur fuel compliance.

Integr8 Fuels bunker quality and claims manager Chris Turner has tallied a 30% rise in incidents of very low-sulphur fuel oil supplies being off-specification in ports along the African coast and into the Mediterranean as far as Barcelona.

“Geopolitical events often have a knock-on effect on fuel quality, sometimes relating to blending economics, and occasionally, also relating to the impact on barge infrastructure because of rapidly changing demand,” Turner said.

Since October 2023, many more vessels have been rerouting around Africa rather than travelling via the troubled Red Sea, resulting in a significant increase in high-sulphur fuel oil demand.

Turner said that analysis has shown the root cause of the off-spec incidents is barges also carrying HSFO.

Integr8 Fuels has also found some suppliers who have been unaffected, likely due to their infrastructure allowing double-valve segregation and separate manifolds to prevent any cross-contamination.

“The increase in HSFO demand is also putting pressure on supply models,” Turner added.

Another factor is the significant increase in the number of vessels equipped with scrubbers, resulting in a far higher demand for HSFO than in recent years.

Data available to Integr8 suggests about 100m dwt of ships being delivered or retrofitted with scrubbers in 2023.

“This, combined with the price spread which remains very appealing and scrubber assets travelling further at higher speeds, continues to support the demand going forwards,” Turner said.

“Suppliers, of course, want to meet this increased demand and in doing so place transitional temporary pressure on existing assets or could be forced into a sea change in strategy — both of which may result in the practice of storing both HSFOs and VLSFOs on board the asset,” he added.