ANTWERP, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Since Saras launched its very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) blend in early September its sales have topped 120,000 tonnes, an executive at the Italian refiner said on Thursday.
VLSFO is the name given to a range of new fuel blends that refiners have created to comply with International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules which kicked off at the start of the year limiting sulphur content in shipping fuel to 0.5%.
“Saras’ flexible and complex refinery configuration allows cost effective VLSFO production,” Massimo Vacca, planning, benchmarking and sustainability manager for Saras told reporters on the sidelines of the S&P Global Platts Middle Distillates Conference.
“We are very pleased with this new product,” he added.
Saras is targeting 550,000 tonnes of VLSFO and 180,000 tonnes of marine gasoil (MGO) in annual sales, according to company figures.
Profit margins for VLSFO have surprised market participants on the upside, and prices have even traded at parity with the usually more expensive MGO at some ports.
Saras is able to produce a 380-cst specification and has so far received “very positive feedback from its clients and no complaints concerning the stability of its VLSFO,” Vacca said.
Saras operates the 300,000 barrel per day Sarroch refinery in Sardinia. (Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar; editing by David Evans)