On Tuesday, JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy, Idemitsu Kosan and Cosmo Oil, Japan’s top 3 refiners, started supplying 0.5% sulfur bunker fuel oil that complies with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) global sulfur limit for marine fuels from their refineries as they get ready for the IMO mandate taking effect in 3 months.

The IMO-2020 compliant bunker fuel oil is now available at the majority of Japan’s refinery locations across the country. It also follows a conclusion by Japan’s authorities in September that its series of trials using IMO-compliant bunker fuel oil from the 3 refiners all went smoothly on coastal vessels, on a total of 12 coastal vessels, including steel materials, cement, LPG carriers, roll-on/roll-off ships as well as ferry and passenger-cargo vessels.

The IMO will cap global sulfur content in marine fuels at 0.5% on January 1, 2020, down from 3.5% now. This applies outside the designated emission control areas where the limit is already 0.1%. Shipowners will have to either burn cleaner, more expensive fuels or install scrubbers if they continue to burn high sulfur fuel oil, to comply with the rule.