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FOBAS: Update on bunker fuel contamination in US Gulf area

FOBAS is still receiving reports of issues as vessels put contaminated bunker fuels into use and are still seeing unusual chemicals in fuels recently bunkered, specifically in Houston and New Orleans ports.

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Lloyd’s Register Fuel Oil Bunkering Analysis and Advisory Service (FOBAS) on Monday (18 December) released a bulletin highlighting it was still receiving reports of issues as vessels put contaminated bunker fuels into use and are still seeing unusual chemicals in fuels recently bunkered, specifically in Houston and New Orleans ports: 

This update follows our previous bulletin from July, viewed here, where we highlighted problems experienced by some vessels after bunkering in Houston and New Orleans and some of the chemicals found in those fuels under in-depth investigation.

Although the problems seemed to peak around summer, we are still getting reports of issues as vessels put contaminated fuels into use and are still seeing unusual chemicals in fuels recently bunkered, specifically in Houston and New Orleans ports.

In our previous bulletin we mentioned glycols, tetrachloroethylene, Tetrahydro and Dihydro DCPD along with low levels of FAME. In some more recent cases there are also a number of unidentifiable chemicals, free fatty acids and signs of high concentrations of unknown esters. Noting on further investigation that Tetrahydro and Dihydro DCPD were also in bunkers loaded on ships that did not report back to us any issues, we have deepening concerns about what the unidentifiable chemicals not detected actually are.

The exact chemistry involved in the fuel and its interaction with the system components leading to the observed problems is still unclear. Reported issues have been linked specifically with fuel pump damage, but maybe the cause of other issues reported by some ships including excessive sludge causing blockage of filters and purifiers and elevated exhaust gas temperature.

The most recent confirmed problem fuel was bunkered in mid-October, however as this has been such a long lasting and wide reaching issue, we would still be concerned about fuels being bunkered in this US Gulf area. The majority of the fuels in question are low viscosity (20 – 100cSt) VLSFO’s with acid numbers between 0.50 – 1.50 mgKOH/g. We would be particularly concerned if fuels being bunkered are in this range and recommend acid number testing is carried out as a precaution on any VLSFO fuel in the area. The number of ships reporting similar issues and the concerns raised from our investigative analysis therefore points away from any ship’s specific fuel management or machinery compatibility and more towards the fuel as supplied.

As ever, it should be confirmed with fuel suppliers that they have checked with those formulating the blends that the blend stocks they use are screened from known sources and deemed ‘ bunker acceptable’. Furthermore, they should confirm the fuel to be bunkered meets not only ISO8217 in its entirety and Table 2 limits, but also the general requirements of fuel quality. ISO8217 states that a refinery, fuel terminal or any other supply facility, including supply barges and truck deliveries, have in place adequate quality assurance and management of change procedures to ensure that the resultant fuel is compliant with the requirements of Clause 5 of the Standard.

Manifold Times previously reported VPS also detecting the presence of Dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) and associated isomers at significantly high levels in VLSFO bunker fuel deliveries in Houston

Related: FOBAS: Possible bunker fuel contamination in Houston and US Gulf area
Related: VPS identifies new bunker fuel contamination at Houston

Photo credit: Louis Reed from Unsplash
Published: 18 December, 2023

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Bunker Fuel

NEN releases standard for residual marine fuels with FAME as blend component

NEN 7427-1 should become complementary to ISO 8217 so that it will not only be possible to blend in FAME of a quality in accordance with EN 14214 or ASTM D6751, but to blend in marine FAME as well.

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The Royal Netherlands Standardization Institute (NEN) on Monday (15 July) published the NEN 7427-1 standard for residual marine fuels that use fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) as a blend component.

NEN said the NEN 7427-1 served as a springboard to facilitate and accelerate the introduction of biogenous products in the marine industry. 

“The standard should become complementary to ISO 8217 (the standard for marine fuel) so that it will not only be possible to blend in FAME of a quality in accordance with EN 14214 or ASTM D6751, but to blend in M-FAME (marine FAME) as well,” it said on its website.

“That is why NEN 7427-1 will soon be introduced within ISO and CEN, so that ISO 8217 may also enable M-FAME to be used in the future.”

NEN said the marine industry is facing a major challenge on its mission to increase its level of sustainability. 

International organisations have recently set emission reduction targets for the industry. 

These targets can partly be reached by using fuels from biogenous sources, such as FAME (methyl esters of fatty acids, a kind of biodiesel). FAME has been commonplace in transport by road for many years. The EN 14214 and the ASTM D6751 specification apply to this. 

They are also used for marine fuel (in accordance with the ISO 8217 specification), although they were not developed specifically for the marine industry, but for road transport. 

“Although biofuels have been used as blend components in the shipping industry for quite some time, there was no specific specification for this industry. The publication of the new NEN 7427-1 standard puts an end to this situation,” it said.

NEN 7427-1 was developed by a working group, consisting of Dutch and Belgian representatives of petroleum producers, biodiesel producers, shipping companies and other interested parties.

“The working group is currently also working on a standard for FAME distillation residues (the residual products of the FAME production process). This will be NEN 7427-2. This standard is expected to go through a public consultation round late this year or early next year,” it added.

 

Photo credit: william william on Unsplash
Published: 18 July 2024

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Bunker Alerts

Bunker Flash: High cat fines found in ARA bunker fuel samples, alerts CTI-Maritec

Out of 22 samples representing both HSFO and VLSFO deliveries in ARA, CTI-Maritec found Aluminium and Silicon concentrations in two samples to be above 100 mg/Kg and in one sample at 68 mg/Kg level.

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Bunker fuel testing and marine surveying business Maritec Pte Ltd (CTI-Maritec) on Friday (12 July) issued an alert regarding high levels of Aluminium and Silicon (Al+Si) concentrations — referred to as catalytic (cat) fines —found after testing multiple samples from various bunker deliveries from the ARA region:

Findings & Insights:

From the period of 08 May 2024 to 05 July 2024, Maritec Pte Ltd (hereafter referred to as CTI-Maritec) tested twenty-two samples representing both HSFO and VLSFO deliveries from various suppliers in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) region, which showed Aluminium and Silicon (Al+Si) concentrations ranging from 40 mg/Kg up to 177 mg/kg.

Out of the twenty-two samples, CTI-Maritec found Aluminium and Silicon (Al+Si) concentrations in two samples to be above 100 mg/Kg and in one sample at 68 mg/Kg level.

While the rest of the samples fell within the specifications of ISO8217:2005 (80 ppm) and even within the ISO8217:2010/2017 specification (including permitted limits of 72 PPM as per ISO4259 for a single test result), the Cat fines content were still considered at high levels. Many of these samples were also found to have high density, high TSP and high CCAI.

Aluminium and Silicon are main classes of abrasive solids found in fuels. High levels of abrasive particles at the engine inlet may lead to abnormal wear and tear of the fuel system components, piston rings and cylinder liners. To control the maximum amount of catalyst fines delivered to the engine, many engine builders specify a maximum limit of 15 mg/kg of Aluminium plus Silicon at engine inlet.

An efficiently operating fuel purification system is the main way of removing these particles. Measuring the fuel’s Aluminium and Silicon concentrations before and after centrifuge provides an indication of the efficiency of the system in removing catalyst fines.

Due to relatively high TSP, fuels might generate increased sludge formation, especially at the Purifiers and filters. Due to high CCAI, fuels might have ignition and combustion related issues.

Our Recommendations:

CTI-Maritec recommends collecting samples from within the fuel system at points such as the fuel oil tank transfer pump, before and after centrifuge, service tank and after filter samples to check the fuel cleaning efficiency.

This document, however, does not reflect on the overall quality of fuel being supplied in ARA region, if you intend to bunker at this region please request for a Certificate of Quality prior to loading.

 

Photo credit: Hans Reniers on Unsplash
Published: 15 July 2024

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Fuel Quality

FOBAS: CIMAC publishes more documents on ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel specs

FOBAS has highlighted that CIMAC WG7 (Fuels) has released several documents including on diesel engines to support the adoption of ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel standard.

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Lloyd’s Register Fuel Oil Bunkering Analysis and Advisory Service (FOBAS) on Friday (5 July) released a bulletin to highlight that CIMAC WG7 (Fuels) has released more documents to support the adoption of ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel standard:

Further to our last bulletin, please note that CIMAC WG7 (Fuels) has released a very comprehensive document titled Design and operation of fuel cleaning systems for diesel engines

This document has three sections, first part discusses the properties of conventional fuels, second part reviews the corresponding fuel system designs, and third part provides best practice approach to handling marine fuels onboard.

Similarly, CIMAC has also published a guidance document titled The interpretation of marine fuel analysis test results which is effectively a revision of the CIMAC WG7 guideline No. 02:2016. 

The document provides information on how to apply the ISO 4259 approach to the interpretation of the analysis test results in respect of the marine fuel characteristics given in ISO 8217 from both the recipient and the supplier perspectives. This revision includes tests added in ISO 8217:2024 and incorporates updated method precision data where relevant.

Moreover, CIMAC has published important guidance titled Overview and interpretation of total sediment test results in the context of ISO 8217:2024

This document provides an overview of test methodologies for assessing stability and cleanliness of residual marine fuels through the interpretation of the accelerated total sediment (TSA), potential total sediment (TSP) and existent total sediment (TSE) test results.

We hope you will find these documents useful. Please note that FOBAS experts are an integral part of CIMAC WG7 who along with other members, worked extensively to produce these guidance documents.

Related: CIMAC Working Group Fuels publishes first of five guidelines supporting release of ISO 8217:2024
Related: FOBAS highlights publication of CIMAC biofuel guidance document
Related: FOBAS announces publication of ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel specifications and FAQs
Related: VPS shares review and position on new ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel specs

 

Photo credit: Louis Reed from Unsplash
Published: 8 July, 2024

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