Trade Article

What Does the Future Look Like for Maritime Shipping?

Aug. 3, 2020


Prior to COVID-19, maritime transport was responsible for shipping over 11 billion tons of cargo around the world each year. Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, this volume is expected to decrease by 5% or more in 2020, but once conditions return to normal, the United Nations projects steady growth of the industry over the next decade.

January 1, 2020, marked the beginning of a new era for many in the world of fuel and transport as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) marine fuel sulfur cap took effect. The future of maritime shipping has been murky in recent years, as ship owners and fuel suppliers prepared for the cap, and markets priced a new grade of marine fuel based on expected supply and demand. Expected, that is, before the Russia-Saudi Arabia oil price war spawned a crude oversupply, and the pandemic triggered a simultaneous collapse in demand for petroleum. Prices for petroleum products collapsed and plans for IMO 2020 compliance put into effect in late 2019 were rendered irrelevant by events that none of us could have predicted. The adage to “leave one’s options open” is, it seems, particularly appropriate in this instance.


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