Houston — New rules forcing ships to use cleaner marine fuels may deal yet another blow to cash-strapped Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), an exporter of high-sulphur fuel oil. From January 1 2020, vessels will have to switch to less-polluting bunker fuel or be fitted with equipment to curb emissions, under new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) rules. This is expected to weaken demand for the high-sulphur residual fuel oil produced by PDVSA, pushing prices lower at the same time that the cost of importing clean fuels rises, said Mel Larson, a consultant at KBC Advanced Technologies. As refiners prepare to produce IMO-compliant fuels that rely on low-sulphur crude oils, sour crude produced by Venezuela and Mexico may be sold at deeper discounts. Meanwhile, demand for lighter distillates, including diesel, is expected to increase. That ultimately will take a toll on the economies of Venezuela, Mexico and Ecuador that rely on imported diesel and petrol. “IMO 2020 has the potentia...

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