Stefka Wechsler of global energy and commodity price reporting agency Argus Media on Thursday (23 January) issued a report made by the Fuel Oil Bunker Analysis and Advisory Service (FOBAS) that said 9% of low sulphur fuel samples in the Americas analysed between 1 December-13 January found to be off specification for issues including engine-damaging sediment:
FOBAS, part of the classification society Lloyd’s Register, said that 9pc, or 40 samples, exceeding the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 8217 standard sediment limit of 0.1pc “is considered very high.”
The rate of sediment in the Americas was consistent with other regions, according to Lloyd’s. High sediment content could damage ships’ engines.
In tests for sulphur content at or below the 0.5pc limit in the Americas, Lloyd’s said 3pc, or 14, of the total marine fuel samples tested, were higher. There were seven instances, or 2pc, with acid numbers higher than the ISO recommended limit, five instances of high water content and four instances of high aluminium and silicon content. Lloyd’s Register tested approximately 444 samples of 0.5pc sulphur fuel oil in the Americas during the sample period.
The company said it is not receiving many requests from shipowners to perform fuel compatibility tests between different 0.5pc sulphur fuels because ships are keeping the different batches they buy segregated. This could change later in the year if shipowners begin to mix batches of the low-sulphur fuels in the same tank.
In the US, Lloyd’s marine fuel samples of 0.5pc sulphur fuel oil during the same period showed viscosity at 50°C averaging at 98 centistokes (cst), with maximum viscosity at 416cst and minimum at 2cst. The average US density of 0.5pc sulphur fuel oil measured at 933 kg/m3 (20.16° API gravity), and ranged from 848-1,000 kg/m3 (10.00°-35.36° API gravity).
In Panama during this period the average viscosity measured was at 87cst and the average density at 937 kg/m3 (19.51° API gravity). On 1 January, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) capped the sulphur emissions of marine fuel burned in international waters at 0.5pc from 3.5pc.
“It is still early days to judge whether the variability of [0.5pc sulphur] fuel quality characteristics will remain high or as we progress, the delta will reduce and we see more stable trends”, Lloyd’s told Argus.
The company also received for testing samples of high-sulphur residual fuel oil from vessels outfitted with scrubbers in the major bunkering hubs, namely Singapore, Fujairah, Rotterdam, Hong Kong, Shanghai, St Petersburg, Barcelona, Las Palmas, Hamburg and others. But the markets are currently fluid and there may be more ports offering high-sulphur fuels to vessels with scrubbers in the future.
Source: Argus Media
Published: 28 January, 2020
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