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Bunker Fuel Quality

CTI-Maritec: Update on Houston bunker fuel problem

It can be argued that these fuels represented by the tested samples may not meet the general requirements outlined in clause 5 of ISO8217, says CTI-Maritec.

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Bunker fuel testing and marine surveying business Maritec Pte Ltd (CTI-Maritec) on Wednesday (4 October) issued an alert regarding fuel samples collected from the region showed significant high levels of two particular compounds and gave its recommendations:

In recent times, there have been notable machinery issues affecting vessels bunkering from the United States, particularly in the Houston area. These problems include failures in Main Engine startup, loss of power from auxiliary engines resulting in the loss of propulsion, and fuel pump malfunctions, among others. These concerns have been widely reported in the news.

CTI-Maritec, an independent fuel testing laboratory, has undertaken an investigation into fuel samples collected from this region. The analysis has revealed elevated levels of specific compounds, which have raised concerns about the stability of the fuel being used in these vessels.

Over the past few months, our testing has identified three vessel fuel samples with significantly high levels of two compounds:

• Dihydro-dicyclopentadiene (ranging from 1200 ppm to 6000 ppm) and

• Tetrahydro-dicyclopentadiene (ranging from 2500 ppm to 5500 ppm)

These samples exhibited a poor reserve stability, measured using manual P-value by SMS1600 test method. This suggests a lack of homogeneity in the fuel sample, which could potentially pinpoint to similar conditions in the supplied fuel.

Table 1 (page 2) shows our findings for one of the samples upon progressive dilution with cetane, a paraffinic solvent prescribed for SMS1600 test method.

Screenshot 2023 10 05 at 10.30.21 AM

Recommendation by CTI-Maritec

For acceptable fuel stability asphaltene flocculation generally does not occur upon cetane dilution up to 30%, and fuels that are able to withstand dilution up to 50% are considered as stable fuels for strategic long-term storage.

For the sample tested, asphaltene flocculation was detected prior to cetane dilution and gradual increase of cetane % increased the observed flocculation levels which indicates the fuel has poor stability reserve.

The presence of the compounds detected at elevated levels for the fuels tested increases the risk of unmanageable sludge deposition in the fuel oil system. This, in turn, can result in complications related to fuel treatment processes and engine operation.

It is worth noting that while these compounds are commonly found in marine bunker fuels, their current prevalence in this region is unusually high. This may indicate inadequate quality control measures within the production and supply chain.

Based on the above findings, it can be argued that these fuels represented by the tested samples may not meet the general requirements outlined in clause 5 of ISO8217. Therefore, if your vessel is bunkering in this area, we strongly advise you to request the fuel supplier to provide a Certificate of Quality from an accredited laboratory.

This certificate should, at a minimum, confirm the absence of the aforementioned compounds using accredited GC-MS methods. This precautionary measure is crucial to ensure the safe and reliable operation of your vessel's machinery.

This document, however, does not reflect on the overall quality of fuel being supplied in the Houston region.

Photo credit: Maritec Pte Ltd
Published: 5 October, 2023

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Bunker Fuel

FOBAS issues industry update of new ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel specifications

FOBAS points out there are a number of significant changes to ISO 8217 as compared to 6th (2017) edition both in terms of extent and content.

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Lloyd’s Register Fuel Oil Bunkering Analysis and Advisory Service (FOBAS) on Thursday (16 May) released a bulletin to highlight significant changes to the ISO 8217:2024 as compared to the 6th (2017) edition.

This bulletin is to bring all clients' attention to the imminent publication of the new version of ISO 8217 and we will be updating again as soon as ISO secretariate uploads the final version of ISO 8217:2024 on its website.

The increasing demand of environmental legislation is leading a marine fuel transition towards oil products derived from synthetic and renewable, recycled or alternative sources. There are a number of significant changes as compared to the 6th (2017) edition both in terms of extent and content.

  • The most noticeable change is to the residual grades in that these will now be divided into three separate tables
    • 4 RM grades not exceeding 0.50% or 0.10% sulphur,
    • 5 RF (biofuel) grades covering unrestricted % FAME content
    • 5 RM grades above 0.50% sulphur.
  • Similarly for the distillates each of the grades, apart from DMX, has a corresponding FAME blend version of unrestricted %
  • In the case of the FAME blends, residual or distillate, the percentage of FAME component is to be advised to the receiver at delivery
  • The FAME used is generally to have met either the EN 14214 or ASTM D6751
  • The net specific energy is to be reported by the supplier
  • Suppliers to ensure all fuel grades are free of organic chlorides
  • Each of the category tables now includes specific reference to the normative paragraphs of the standard
  • The principal change to the residual grades is that these all now also include a minimum, in addition to the existing maximum, viscosity
  • To enhance control of asphaltene stability in the case of sulphur limited RM grades and the RF grades, this is now limited in terms of total sediment by thermal ageing to the same limit as before but additionally the accelerated and existent values are also to be reported by the supplier

It is also worth noting that generally the limit values, for both the distillates and residuals, have not fundamentally altered although for residuals there has been a redistribution across the reduced number of grades.

Lloyd’s Register FOBAS has been heavily involved in guiding and contributing as a member of the ISO and CIMAC fuels working groups and for our position we would highly recommend adopting this new standard in all fuel purchasing/sourcing processes whenever possible. We will have a number of additional testing options available which we will further explain on request.

As mentioned, a far more detailed bulletin will be issued shortly supported by a list of FAQ to further support your operations.

 

Photo credit: Hans Reniers on Unsplash
Published: 17 May 2024

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Bunker Fuel

NTSB report dismisses bunker fuel as cause of Singapore-registered “Dali” crashing into Baltimore bridge

After numerous fuel testing on the LSMGO bunker fuel “Dali” was using, NTSB preliminary report highlighted that ‘the test results did not identify any concerns related to the quality of the fuel’.

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Singapore-registered “Dali” crashing into Baltimore bridge

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Tuesday (14 May) has dismissed contaminated bunker fuel as a cause behind Singapore-registered Dali crashing into Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, USA in its latest report. 

This was the latest finding of NTSB in its preliminary report, titled Contact of Containership Dali with the Francis Scott Key Bridge and Subsequent Bridge Collapse, investigating the fatal incident.

The vessel struck the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, on 26 March at about 1.30pm (Singapore Time), causing the bridge to collapse. 

Following the collision which killed six people, speculation was rife whether contaminated bunker fuel played a role in the containership losing power and crashing into the bridge. 

NTSB found that the ship used three main grades of bunker fuel for the main engine and electrical generators: low-sulphur marine gas oil (LSMGO), low-sulphur heavy fuel oil, and heavy fuel oil. 

Dali carried an estimated 1.8 million gallons of fuel in dedicated vessel fuel tanks. None of the vessel’s dedicated fuel tanks were damaged. 

The last time Dali crew switched fuel was on the evening of 21 March, five days before the accident, when they switched to burning LSMGO in all engines upon entering US territorial waters (12 miles off the Atlantic coast), as required by emission regulatory requirements.

The containership took on various amounts of all three types of fuel in Newark, New Jersey, on 19 March after the month-long trip from Sri Lanka. Fuel-sample analysis results indicated that the LSMGO fuel bunkered in Newark, which was the same type of fuel in use during the accident events, complied with international standards and regulations. 

According to the report, NTSB said: “The test results did not identify any concerns related to the quality of the fuel.”

On 28 March, the owner of the ship took samples of the LSMGO that was being burned at the time of the accident. At NTSB direction, the owner transferred the samples to an independent laboratory. 

“The test results did not identify any concerns related to the quality of the fuel,” it said.

On 11 April, additional fuel samples were taken from all fuel tanks and various fuel supply manifolds on board the vessel; samples were tested by an independent lab. 

“Fuel-sample analysis results indicated that the LSMGO fuel being burned at the time of the accident complied with international standards and regulations. The test results did not identify any concerns related to the quality of the fuel,” NTSB added. 

First series of blackouts when in port

Instead, NTSB found Dali experienced two electrical blackouts 10 hours before leaving Baltimore on 25 March during in-port maintenance. The first in-port blackout was caused by the mechanical blocking of the online generator’s exhaust gas stack. The second blackout in port was related to insufficient fuel pressure for the online generator. 

Second series of blackouts when leaving port

Screenshot 2024 05 15 at 11.50.41 AM

NTSB also found Dali experienced two electrical blackouts when it was leaving Port of Baltimore when electrical breakers that fed most of the vessel’s equipment and lighting unexpectedly tripped.

The NTSB is still investigating the electrical configuration following the first in-port blackout and potential impacts on the events during the accident voyage.

It also said it will continue evaluating the design and operation of Dali’s power distribution system including its breakers.

“NTSB is working with parties to immediately assess their bridges and determine whether pier protection needs to be improved,” it added.

Singapore-based Grace Ocean Private Limited, the vessel’s owner, owns 55 ships—a mix of containerships including Dali, bulk carriers, and tankers. 

As of 26 March, Singapore-based Synergy Marine Group, the vessel manager who provided the crew and operated the vessel for the owner, managed 55 ships under Panama, Marshall Islands, Hong Kong, Liberia, and Singapore flags, including Dali.

Note: The full marine investigation preliminary report by NTSB titled ‘Contact of Containership Dali with the Francis Scott Key Bridge and Subsequent Bridge Collapse’ can be found here

Related: Baltimore bridge crash: Safety investigation to include contaminated bunker fuel as possible cause
Related: Baltimore bridge collapse: FuelTrust highlights bunkering activities of Singapore-registered “Dali”
Related: MPA: Singapore-registered ship in Baltimore bridge crash passed previous foreign port state inspections

 

Photo credit: National Transportation Safety Board
Published: 15 May 2024

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ECA

FOBAS: Update on Mediterranean Sulphur Oxides Emission Control Area (ECA-SOx)

FOBAS reminded ship operators that on 1 May, MARPOL Annex VI has been updated with addition of regulation 14.3.5 referring to Mediterranean Emission Control Areas, officially came into force on the same date.

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Louis Reed from Unsplash

Lloyd’s Register Fuel Oil Bunkering Analysis and Advisory Service (FOBAS) on Tuesday (7 May) released a bulletin reminding ship operators that on 1 May, MARPOL Annex VI has been updated with addition of regulation 14.3.5 referring to Mediterranean Emission Control Areas:

This bulletin serves as a reminder to ship operators that on 1st of May 2024, MARPOL Annex VI has been updated with addition of regulation 14.3.5 referring to Mediterranean Emission Control Areas, officially came into force on aforementioned date. This confirms that ships operating in Mediterranean Sea need to comply with regulation 14.4 of MARPOL Annex VI i.e., the sulphur content of the fuel used onboard ships operating in emission control area shall not exceed 0.10% m/m (unless ship is using a sulphur oxides abatement technology such as exhaust gas scrubbers).

Currently, ships are exempt from this requirement until 1st May 2025 as per regulation 14.7 of MARPOL Annex VI which states that during the first 12 months of any amendment to the specified emission control area, ships operating in that area are exempt from the requirements of paragraph 4, 5 and 6 of regulation 14.

This may mean a significant change for many ships and could also affect the types of fuel available at certain ports so it will be essential to carefully plan for this change in advance of 1st May 2025.

Appendix VII of MARPOL Annex VI has also been updated with paragraph 4 which outlines the area and exact coordinates of the new Mediterranean emission control area as per following;

In respect of the application of regulation 14.4, the Mediterranean Sea Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides and Particulate Matter includes all waters bounded by the coasts of Europe, Africa and Asia, and is described by the following coordinates:

  1. the western entrance to the Straits of Gibraltar, defined as a line joining the extremities of Cap Trafalgar, Spain (36°11'.00 N, 6°02'.00 W) and Cape Spartel, Morocco (35°48'.00 N, 5°55'.00 W);
  2. the Strait of Canakkale, defined as a line joining Mehmetcik Burnu (40°03'N, 26°11'E) and Kumkale Burnu (40°01'.00 N, 26°12'.00 E); and
  3. the northern entrance to the Suez Canal excluding the area enclosed by geodesic lines connecting points 1-4 with the following coordinates:

Screenshot 2024 05 08 at 12.57.46 PM

Photo credit: Louis Reed from Unsplash
Published: 8 May 2024

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