It also provides refiners, particularly in the US and China, the opportunity to capture the value of their ULSFO component streams and increase their share of the global bunker market.
Some refiners should see better profit margins as incremental demand for MGO rises, pushing up its price. Higher refining runs, required to meet additional MGO demand, could potentially push global gasoline market into surplus weakening gasoline prices. This could mean that the gasoline pain for some refiners could be more acute than the impact of weaker HSFO prices. Overall, we expect a material impact on refining economics post IMO and refiners must ensure they have a robust IMO strategy in place.
We also expect a shift in bunkering locations based on compliant fuels availability. Singapore, for example, could potentially lose some of its market share for bunker fuels to China as shippers look for alternative locations with a surplus of compliant fuels. China, with ample MGO supply, is well positioned to attract shippers.
New greenfield upgrading investments from refiners are unlikely to be purely driven by IMO regulation, and there is a need to look at longer-term rationale and strategic fit of these projects. Structural shifts in the fuel oil and gasoil markets may result in better economics, but that needs to be re-evaluated. For refiners choosing not to invest, the focus should be on infrastructure to capture the opportunity from their existing configuration and internal streams.