IMO 2020 could create fierce competition for scarce water resources

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations set to take effect in 2020 have sparked mountains of research on the expected costs for the energy and maritime sectors. Less thought has been given to IMO 2020’s environmental consequences, especially on water demand. The US refining complex will need more water than ever before after IMO 2020 comes into effect. This conclusion is based primarily on forecasting from S&P Global Platts Analytics and the US Energy Information Administration along with the findings of recent academic research. The sheer scale of this issue is difficult to appreciate, but simply considering the US refining complex processed some 17.2 million b/d in 2018, using approximately 1.5 barrels of water for each barrel of oil, any marginal increase in the sector’s water usage demand is worth discussing. Energy and water are connected Without a doubt, modern societies could not exist without sufficient energy or water and, vexingly, their production is highly interdependent. In other words, producing one tends to require a vast amount of the other. Scholars have named this problem the “energy-water nexus” and solving it will be one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, given this interdependency should become more dramatic over… continue reading

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