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DUBAI, April 4 (Reuters) - A unit of Royal Dutch Shell will fuel the world's first LNG-powered Aframax crude oil tankers under a deal signed with Russian shipping company SCF Group (Sovcomflot).
Shippers are looking to liquefied natural gas (LNG) to help them meet stricter emissions regulations in 2020.
Oil tankers are "another marine segment embracing the benefits of LNG fuel", Maarten Wetselaar, Shell's integrated gas and new energies director, said in an announcement released on Monday.
Shell subsidiary Shell Western LNG will supply four Aframax tankers operating in the Baltic Sea and northern Europe from a bunkering vessel that will load at the Gate terminal in Rotterdam and a second supply point in the Baltics.
The dual-fuelled tankers are scheduled to begin operations at the start of the third quarter of 2018.
Ship owners and operators face tougher regulations on marine fuel, also known as bunker fuel, in 2020.
Under International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements set in October, the cap on sulphur emissions from vessels will fall to 0.5 percent by 2020 from the current 3.5 percent.
In order to comply, shippers can burn lower-sulphur, but more expensive, middle distillates, install "scrubbers" that enable them to burn dirtier fuel, or invest in ships powered by LNG.
LNG has virtually no sulphur content, while producing low nitrogen oxides compared to industry standard fuel oil and marine gasoil.
Reporting by Roslan Khasawneh; editing by Jason Neely