The downstream industry is currently debating whether IMO 2020 sulphur regulations will be resolved quickly or slowly. We think the market-distortions may be prolonged by under-appreciated technology challenges.
Opportunities amidst the Challenge?
So if the market-distortions of IMO 2020 have longevity, who will stand to benefit? We are maintaining a data-file of the ‘Top Technologies for IMO 2020’ around the industry, which give specific companies an edge. The data file now contains over 25 technologies across 7 Majors.
Al-Shahrani, F., Koseoglu, O. R. & Bourane, A. (2018). Integrated System and Process for In-Situ Organic Peroxide Production and Oxidative HeteroAtom Conversion. Saudi Aramco Patent.
Koseoglu, O. R., (2018). Integrated Isomerisation and Hydrotreating Process. Saudi Aramco Patent CN107529542
Hanks, P. (2018). Trim Alkali Metal Desulfurisation of Refinery Fractiions. ExxonMobil Patent US2018171238
This note contains our ‘Top Five’ conclusions about the Oil Majors’ research partnerships, drawing off our database of 3,000 oil company patents. Different companies have importantly different approaches. We can quantify this, by looking at the number of patents co-filed with partners (chart above).
It would be unwise to under-estimate the complexity of creating a new LNG province, with a 50MTpa prize on the table in Mozambique. After the first two trains are in motion, the longer-term opportunity is potentially “another Qatar”. But only if Mozambique can compete for capital with US greenfields and brownfield expansions.
Hence we have reviewed 200 of Chevron’s patents from 2018. The company’s ability to develop a new, deep-water LNG province is notable. Ten examples are tabulated below.
It was interesting how many of the patents were filed in Australia and may have derived from learnings at Gorgon and Wheatstone.
For a primer on different LNG process technologies, please see our data-file (here).
So far we have reviewed 400 patents in the downstream oil and gas industry (ex-chemicals). A rare few prompted an excited thought — “that could be really useful when IMO 2020 comes around”.
Specifically, from January 2020, marine fuel standards will tighten, cutting the maximum sulphur content from 3.5% to 0.5%. It will reduce the value of high-sulphur fuel oil, and increase the value of low-sulphur diesel.
This note summarises the top dozen proprietary technologies we have seen to capitalise on the shift, summarised by company (chart below).