On the eve of the new year, shipowner Evangelos Marinakis predicted in an interview with Bloomberg that world trade could suffer a major jolt when thousands of merchant vessels over the next two years will be put out of commission, due to strict, new marine fuel rules.

For Marinakis, the assertion is not just a theoretical projection, but is backed up by a huge business investment.

As chairman of Capital Maritime & Trading Corp., in the last 18 months Marinakis spent a whopping $1.1 billion US to upgrade his fleet of 71 ships, ranging from oil tankers to container carriers, as the new rules will benefit modern vessels and send many older ones to the scrapyard, as he told Bloomberg.

As of Jan. 1, 2020, the entire fleet, handling about 90 percent of global trade, must reduce the amount of sulfur vessels belch into the atmosphere, under rules adopted last year by the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency.

“As much as a quarter of the current fleet could be scrapped,” Marinakis told Bloomberg in an interview in London, where he also has an office.

Marinakis said that more than 20 percent of the 95,000-ship global fleet is over 15 years old, too old for additional investments”.

“This could have an adverse impact on world trade,” said Marinakis.

The article notes that Marinakis founded his first shipping company in 1991, at the age of 24.