Euronav has chartered a tanker to bring a 30,000 tonne cargo of low-sulphur fuel oil from northwest Europe to Malta, where its megatanker, Oceania, has been parked offshore since Jan. 12, ship-tracking data showed.
Oil analytics firm Vortexa said the STI Brixton tanker loaded low-sulphur fuel oil from Antwerp on March 9 and is due to reach Malta by Wednesday, where it will likely transfer its cargo via a ship-to-ship operation onto the ultra large crude carrier (ULCC).
This is the first observed STS shipment loaded onto the Oceania megatanker since it arrived offshore Malta, Vortexa said.
Euronav decided to deploy the Oceania to store clean fuel as part of its IMO 2020 initiatives.
From the start of next year, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will ban ships from using fuels with a sulphur content of more than 0.5 percent, compared with 3.5 percent now, in one of the biggest changes to hit the oil market in decades.
Only ships equipped with sulphur cleaning kits known as scrubbers will be allowed to continue burning high-sulphur fuels.
Euronav is one of the world’s biggest shipowners with a fleet of around 70.
Traders said they have seen Euronav actively buying fuel oil recently.
“Euronav’s chartering and fuel oil purchasing activity signals an emerging trend of shipowners becoming more active in the trading arena,” said senior Vortexa trading specialist, Cosmo Kedros.
“We expect to see more of this across Europe and Asia in the run-up to the IMO 2020 deadline,” he added.