Connect with us

Bunker Fuel Quality

VPS: Avoid expensive, catastrophic engine failures with GCMS screening of bunker fuel

Steve Bee, VPS Group Commercial Director, discusses how pre-burn chemical screening of bunker fuels can help prevent costly and catastrophic engine failures.

Admin

Published

on

RESIZED VPS logo

Steve Bee, Group Commercial Director of marine fuels testing company VPS, talks on the vital importance of pre-burn chemical screening of bunker fuels in preventing catastrophic engine failures:

The past five years have given rise to numerous high-profile, chemically-contaminated marine fuel cases. Hundreds of vessels have experienced costly engine damages during these events, in Houston (2018 and 2023), Europe (2022) and also in Singapore (2022). 

In addition to these highly publicised contamination events, there have been many single cases of vessel damage across the world due to the presence of chemical contaminants within fuel. All of these cases, large or small, have shown numerous different chemical contaminants, or combinations of contaminants, which have been identified as being responsible for these damages.

To highlight the consequences of chemically contaminated marine fuel, one recent case study, illustrates perfectly the issues and expense, ship owners and operators can face, when chemicals are present within their fuel.

In April 2023, a Singaporean-owned chemical and product tanker bunkered 415 m/tons of VLSFO in Houston. The vessel began to burn the fuel in May and quickly began to experience numerous issues with the auxiliary and main engines, such as exhaust gas deviating temperatures and the wearing of fuel pumps and plunger barrels. In addition, problems such as start-failure due to insufficient fuel injection, pressure build up, as well as worn out and leaking fuel pumps.

Of greater concern was the complete engine stoppage enroute to the next US port, when the main engine failed. Multiple attempts were made to start the engine, all without success.

Subsequent VPS forensic laboratory testing, utilising a proprietary Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) Acid Extraction methodology, detected the presence of several phenols and fatty acid compounds within the fuel.

The vessel initiated the necessary repairs to both auxiliary and main engine fuel pumps, at a total spares cost of $200,000.

Following these repairs, Class and Engine Manufacturer representatives attended the vessel to assess both auxiliary and main engine performance. A sea trial was then arranged in order to gain USCG approval to berth and manoeuvre the vessel in US coastal waters.

Eventually towards the end of July the contaminated fuel was de-bunkered in Houston.

Captain Subhangshu Dutt, Managing Director of OM Maritime, said: “It seems many more fuel quality details need to be considered while bunkering nowadays in order to avoid such incidents in the future, & chemical screening can be a useful tool to raise the red flag. Prudent testing can also keep us abreast of new contaminants that can enter the bunker market. Using technology and digitalization to trace the upstream history of the fuel could be considered. A perfect world would be when rigorous & relevant testing procedures are completed before the fuel is declared “fit” to be delivered on board”.

Hindsight with this and many other cases, would see ship owners and operators, looking for a more pro-active, pre-burn means of detecting the presence of volatile contaminants within their fuel. The VPS Chemical Screening service provides such a solution and ensures a higher level of vessel protection.

Since 2018, 41% of vessels engaged in the VPS fuel testing programme, have used the numerous Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) services available to detect chemical contaminants within fuel.

Focusing specifically on the GCMS-Head Space Chemical Screening service, 19.9% of applicable marine fuel samples received by VPS since 2018, have undertaken this rapid, pre-burn protection service, with an average 8% of samples tested, giving rise to a “Caution” result, indicating the presence of at least one chemical contaminant.

VPS report GCMS-HS screening results within 24-hours of sample receipt and once a “Caution” result is identified, VPS customers can immediately place their supplier on notice, pending further investigation, avoiding restrictive time-bar agreements.

Further investigation usually begins with a GCMS-HS Extended analysis, followed by more detailed forensic GCMS analysis, if required.

However, the initial GCMS-HS chemical screening service offers great benefits and value to VPS customers, as an inexpensive, rapid detection service, prior to the fuel being burnt. To put this into context, the $200,000 cost of replacement parts highlighted in the above case study, could have provided over 3,500 GCMS-HS screening tests.

A Swedish Club report in 2018, stated the average cost of a single fuel-related damage case is $344,000. With current fuel prices at $700/mt and an average bunker stem of 1,000mt, then a single GCMS-HS screening test to check for the presence of volatile chemicals within that one fuel delivery, equates to less than 0.008% of the cost of the fuel. Yet this service would provide a much greater level of protection to the vessel and avoid the risks associated with volatile chemicals within marine fuel. Which raises a final thought-provoking question, “Can you afford not to screen your fuel for chemicals?”

Photo credit: VPS
Published: 2 November, 2023

Continue Reading

Biofuel

Singapore: GCMD studies FAME biofuel degradation in bunker supply chains

Latest report by GCMD, which tracked quality of FAME and FAME blends across maritime supply chain, found that trials detected no significant degradation of FAME under commercial operations conditions.

Admin

Published

on

By

Singapore: GCMD studies FAME biofuel degradation in commercial and storage conditions

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) on Tuesday (18 June) announced the release of its latest report,aimed to shed light on its findings from tracking the quality of FAME and FAME blends as they make their way through the supply chains and on consumption onboard vessels.

GCMD said Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME), a readily available biofuel, is gaining attention as an immediate solution to comply with EU and IMO regulations.

FAME use in major bunkering hubs Singapore and Rotterdam has risen from being negligible in 2020 to a combined 1 million metric tonnes (mt) of FAME blends in 2023.

“Unlike conventional marine fuels, FAME-based biofuels can be unstable since its natural oils and fats can slowly oxidise when exposed to atmospheric oxygen,” it said. 

When oxidation happens, FAME can degrade to produce by-products, like peroxides, alcohols, and sludge, all of which can impact engine life and performance. Degradation can also be further accelerated by exposure to water, impurities, contaminants, light, and heat.

The report, titled Tracking the propensity of biofuels degradation across the maritime supply chain, sheds light on a crucial question: Does FAME degrade significantly under actual commercial and storage conditions in the marine supply chains, hindering its potential as a widespread decarbonisation solution?  

Key insights and takeaways

 Encouragingly, GCMD said end-to-end supply chain trials detected no significant degradation of FAME under commercial operations conditions.

“These findings offer strong support for FAME use in the marine fuels supply chain,” it said. 

The report elaborates how the team traced the properties of FAME and FAME blends, and tracked the parameters of FAME quality, namely acid value, viscosity, FAME content, energy content and microbial contamination, of samples at different points along the supply chain to come to this conclusion.

What the report covers

  • Understanding the propensity of degradation of FAME
  • Tracing FAME quality in GCMD’s end-to-end supply chains
  • Understanding the current ISO specifications for FAME quality requirements
  • Contextualising GCMD’s findings per ISO specifications

The report is co-authored by Dr. Prapisala Thepsithar, Director of Projects, and Dr. Sanjay Kuttan, Chief Strategy Officer, at GCMD. 

It has also been reviewed by industry leaders: Dr. Malcolm Cooper, CEO of VPS, Captain Rahul Choudhuri, President, Strategic Partnerships, VPS and Ms. Monique Vermeire, Fuels Technologist at Chevron.

In a social media post, Capt. Rahul Choudhuri, President Strategic Partnerships, said: “VPS is very proud to have supported the Global Centre of Maritime Decarbonization (GCMD) in this vitally important work of understanding the nature of Biofuels Degradation.”

VPS said the biofuels study showed levels of fuel degradation in a real-world environment. Whereas the trials indicated no degradation of the Biofuels over the nominated transportation section & supply to the vessel

Note: The report titled ‘Tracking the propensity of biofuels degradation across the maritime supply chain’ can be found here

 

Photo credit: Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation
Published: 19 June 2024

Continue Reading

Biofuel

FOBAS highlights publication of CIMAC biofuel guidance document

CIMAC WG7 (Fuels) in support of adopting recently published ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel standard, has released a biofuel guidance document and an FAQ document on ISO 8217:2024 standard.

Admin

Published

on

By

RESIZED Hans Reniers on Unsplash

Lloyd’s Register Fuel Oil Bunkering Analysis and Advisory Service (FOBAS) on Saturday (15 June) released a bulletin to highlight the publication of a biofuel guidance document by CIMAC WG7 (Fuels) following the recently published ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel standard:

Further to our last bulletin, please note that CIMAC WG7 (Fuels) in support of adopting recently published ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel standard, has released a biofuel guidance document titled ‘Marine fuels containing FAME; A guideline for shipowners and operators’ and an FAQ document on ISO 8217:2024 standard.

The focus of biofuel CIMAC guideline is onboard operations when using blends of FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester) up to B100 i.e., 100% FAME allowed as per ISO 8217:2024. The document has been divided into various sections with detailed commentary on topics such as sustainability, production/specifications of FAME, onboard operational considerations, quality assessment methods outlined in ISO 8217:2024, and finally a short discussion on unestablished and/or recycled biofuels.

The FAQ document on ISO 8217:2024 helps to addresses important questions and changes made compared to the previous versions such as increasing the number of tables from two to four, inclusion of FAME based biofuels and certain test methods etc.

Please note that CIMAC is expected to release a few more documents in coming weeks to support ISO 8217:2024 standard which include ‘Overview and interpretation of total sediment test results in the context of ISO 8217:2024’, ‘Design and operation of fuel cleaning systems for diesel engines’ and ‘The interpretation of marine fuel analysis test results’. 

We intend to issue another bulletin to announce the release of these documents.

Related: FOBAS announces publication of ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel specifications and FAQs
Related: CIMAC Working Group Fuels publishes first of five guidelines supporting release of ISO 8217:2024

 

Photo credit: Hans Reniers on Unsplash
Published: 18 June 2024

Continue Reading

Bunker Fuel

Integr8 report: Two-thirds of residual bunker fuels still sold with pre-2017 ISO specs

New ISO 8217 standards present a rare opportunity to do away with industry’s reliance on obsolete fuel specifications but noted that it will be no easy task as majority of fuels are still sold with pre-2017 specifications.

Admin

Published

on

By

Integr8 report: Two-thirds of residual bunker fuels still sold with pre-2017 ISO specs

Integr8 Fuels, the bunker trading and brokerage arm of Navig8, on Tuesday (11 June) announced the release of its Bunker Quality Trends Report Q1 2024, which revealed several issues including the impact of the Red Sea closure on VLSFO compliance and emerging bunker quality trends.

In the latest report, bunker quality and claims manager Chris Turner advised shipowners and bunker buyers on how they can improve their buying processes and performance. 

Analysing data from over 130 million metric tonnes of deliveries to assess fuel quality trends and challenges from region-to-region, Turner revealed the most pressing quality issues the industry is up against. 

These include:

  • Red Sea closure affecting VLSFO compliance for vessels rerouting around Africa
  • Global VLSFO compliance suffers as suppliers stretch barges to cash in on rising HSFO
  • demand, driven by increasing scrubber numbers
  • Two-thirds of fuels are still sold with obsolete (pre-2017) specifications. Can the new ISO specs finally shake up old school practices?
  • Profit margin-motivated blenders push more HSFOs over ISO limits
  • VLSFO sulphur off specs worsening in the ARA and partly driven by high- to low sulphur barge switching

Red Sea closure impact on VLSFO compliance

Geopolitical events often have a knock-on effect on fuel quality, sometimes relating to blending economics, and occasionally, also relating to the impact on barge infrastructure because of rapidly changing demand.

Since October 2023, many more vessels have been rerouting around Africa rather than travelling via the Red Sea, resulting in a significant increase in volume of HSFO demand, with a ripple effect stretching as far as Barcelona. During the same period, there has been a 30% increase in VLSFO sulphur off specification incidents in ports along the African coast and nearby Spain, which upon closer inspection, show a root cause of affected barges also carrying HSFO.

Integr8 Fuels’ analysis has identified suppliers running a similar model who are unaffected - this likely due to their infrastructure allowing double valve segregation and separate manifolds onboard the barge preventing any cross-over contamination, and/or proper management of grade changeover.

The increase in HSFO demand is also putting pressure on supply models.

Another factor is the significant increase in the number of vessels equipped with scrubbers, resulting in a far higher demand for HSFO than in recent years with data available to Integr8 suggesting approximately 100 million MT of deadweight tonnage being either delivered or retrofitted with scrubbers in 2023. This combined with the price spread which remains very appealing, and scrubber assets travelling further at higher speeds, continues to support the demand going forwards.

Suppliers of course want to meet this increased demand and in doing so place transitional temporary pressure on existing assets or could be forced into a sea change in strategy, both of which may result in the practice of storing both HSFOs and VLSFOs onboard the asset.

This is made apparent by increased sulphur off specification occurrences with the root cause being the switching of grades by certain suppliers, in ports including but not limited to Barcelona, Callao and Hong Kong.

New ISO specs

The International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) recently launched ISO 8217:2024 standards present a rare opportunity to do away with the industry’s reliance on obsolete fuel specifications. This is no easy task as research from Integr8 shows that two-thirds of residual bunker fuels and three-quarters of distillate bunker fuels are still sold with pre-2017 specifications.

ISO 8217:2024 introduces several important amendments. Notably, it sets minimum viscosity limits across all residual grades, addressing handling issues with low-viscosity fuels. It also identifies specific chemical species linked to operational problems, such as organic chlorides, and incorporates international testing standards. The new specification prepares the industry for the growing use of biofuel blends by establishing new testing parameters for these fuels, such as FAME content and net heat of combustion.

There are however missed opportunities, namely related to de-minimis levels of organic chlorides and cold flow properties.

Suppliers may again attempt to avoid the small print on organic chlorides as they have previously done with Clause 5, which could possibly have been better addressed by incorporating a maximum limit in tables. Cold flow properties must only be reported, not guaranteed, leaving the potential need for buyers to seek additional guarantees outside ISO 8217:2024. This remains a concern as certificates of quality (where such values are reported) often lack reliability when provided at a distant time from delivery.

Despite these challenges, the ISO 8217:2024 specification represents a substantial step forward, providing the necessary framework to address many current fuel quality issues. The uptake of the 2024 specification will depend significantly on ship owners demanding these new standards be incorporated into charterparty agreements. By doing so, owners can drive the transition from outdated specifications to the latest version, paving the way for a more reliable and efficient future in marine fuel standards.

Global HSFO off specs

Global HSFO quality has worsened in the past six months. The number of off-specification HSFO samples has gone up from 3% to 3.4%, and this is significantly higher than for VLSFO (2.1%) and MGO (2.8%).

Profit-motivated blending can go some way to explain the deteriorating HSFO trend. Almost half of HSFO off specs have been blending-related and come as a result of blending close to HSFOs density and viscosity limits, Turner argues. Water content is the second most likely usual off spec suspect and has made up around a third of HSFO off specs.

But fortunately, neither density, viscosity nor most of the water off specs qualify as so-called “critical” or “high risk” off specs. They are not likely to lead to serious engine trouble or debunkerings, which can cost shipowners dearly. These off specs are typically economically motivated. Density and viscosity off specs are more common for HSFO than for VLSFO and LSMGO because they are the blending targets for HSFO, and blenders have an incentive to blend as close to those limits as possible to save money.

VLSFO sulphur off specs

Sulphur is the biggest off spec concern for VLSFO. Again, this has to do with blending as the 0.50% sulphur limit is the target that blenders have their eyes on. Blending too far from the limit can eat into your profit margins, and we have seen the average sulphur contents in VLSFOs creep up in both the ARA and Singapore in the past six months.

In Singapore, you were 2.5 times more likely get a VLSFO stem with a sulphur content of 0.51-0.53% in the past six months as you were getting one in the preceding six-month period. It is evident that blending is being optimised towards the 0.50%.

But while only 0.3% of VLSFOs test off spec for sulphur in Singapore, the ARA has seen 2% of VLSFOs testing off spec. In the ARA, “we regretfully report that we are almost twice as likely to face a sulphur off specification incident now than in the previous reporting period,” Turner wrote.

Note: The full report of Integr8 Fuels’ ‘Bunker Quality Trends Report Q1 2024’ can be downloaded here.

Related: Integr8 Fuels: Off spec issue with MGO equally likely to occur as with HSFO

 

Photo credit: Integr8 Fuels
Published: 12 June 2024

Continue Reading
Advertisement
  • RE 05 Lighthouse GIF
  • EMF banner 400x330 slogan
  • SBF2
  • v4Helmsman Gif Banner 01
  • Aderco advert 400x330 1
  • Consort advertisement v2

OUR INDUSTRY PARTNERS

  • SEAOIL 3+5 GIF
  • HL 2022 adv v1
  • 102Meth Logo GIF copy
  • Singfar advertisement final
  • Triton Bunkering advertisement v2


  • E Marine logo
  • endress
  • Auramarine 01
  • Golden Island logo square
  • Synergy Asia Bunkering logo MT
  • Central Star logo
  • Victory Logo
  • Uni Fuels logo advertisement white background
  • 300 300
  • Energe Logo
  • 400x330 v2 copy
  • Advert Shipping Manifold resized1
  • VPS 2021 advertisement
  • Headway Manifold

Trending