Connect with us


Fuel Contamination Issue – a VPS Update on Challenges & Solutions

GCMS chemical analysis is not part of the current ISO8217 standard, yet time and again, chemically contaminated fuels cause damage to vessels, said Steve Bee of VPS.




vps LOGO 1

Steve Bee, Group Commercial & Business Development Director of marine fuels testing company VPS, on Monday (8 August) shared its testing role in using GCMS chemical analysis to detect contaminants present in marine fuel - including contaminated bunkers delivered to vessels in the port of Singapore in February.

Within only six months from the first reported cases of contaminated HSFO fuel being delivered to vessels bunkering in Singapore, the MPA have concluded a thorough investigation and taken the firm action of suspending the bunkering licence of supplier, Glencore.

This contaminated fuel, delivered between February-March 2022 to over 200 vessels, negatively affecting the operation of over 80 vessels, was first detected and reported by VPS.

Using proprietary Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) methodologies and many years of forensic fuel experience and expertise, VPS identified the contaminants as four specific chlorinated hydrocarbons:

Fuel Contamination Issue – a VPS Update on Challenges & Solutions

These compounds are not part of the refining process of crude oil and as such, should not be present within marine fuels, as stated under Section 5 of the international marine fuel standard, ISO8217.

As a result of these initial findings, the MPA invited VPS to assist in their investigation. VPS were able to provide further evidence of the presence of the contaminants, their source, behaviour, plus how and why such chemicals cause the damages witnessed by the vessels, which suffered when using the fuel.

Vessels suffered damage as indicated in the pictures below. This impact of this damage ranged from, complete engine blackout affecting main engines and auxiliary engines, to fuel pump corrosion, plungers sticking in the barrel, main fuel engine plunger damage, fuel sludging, filter blockages and elevated exhaust temperatures.

The damages arose due to the high pressure and temperatures within fuel delivery system, plus the fast movement of pumps, causing the chlorinated hydrocarbons to form hydrochloric acid (HCl), which quickly corroded the metallic surfaces.

It is worth noting, the fuel samples did not exhibit high TAN, but the above conditions caused the acidic reaction to take place within the fuel pumps.

Fuel Contamination Issue – a VPS Update on Challenges & Solutions

VPS identified 8 supply barges within the port that were contaminated with these chlorinated hydrocarbons. Correlation of VPS results showed that when the concentration of total chlorinated hydrocarbons was less than 100ppm, then no damage was caused to the vessels fuel delivery system or engines.

Following the submission of these findings to the MPA, in early June 2022 saw the MPA and an investigative journalist from The Straits Times visit the VPS Laboratory in Singapore, to witness just how VPS were able to detect the contaminants present in marine fuel. In a feature article by The Straits Times on 7th June 2022, the VPS work was reported as a CSI-type forensic investigation due to the advanced detection nature of the work.

Since the Singapore incident, a further major fuel contamination case occurred in ARA during May 2022. This time the contaminants were a range of volatile organic chemicals, phenols, styrenes, alcohols and ketonic compounds, ranging up to 40,000ppm (4%). Whilst these chemicals were different to those found in Singapore, they caused similar types of damage to vessels.

The MPA takes compliance with it’s bunkering licensing very seriously and has reminded all licensed bunker suppliers to adhere strictly to the terms and conditions of their licences. Highlighting, they will not hesitate to suspend or cancel licences where necessary.

GCMS chemical analysis, is not part of the current ISO8217 standard, yet time and again, chemically contaminated fuels cause unnecessary damage to vessels. This has heightened in recent times due to the advent of global crises & wars due to parties cutting corners by using cheaper blending components. Therefore, VPS would advise both fuel suppliers and vessel operators to utilise the experience and expertise VPS has in providing chemical contamination detection services, in order to protect their business, assets and reputation.


Photo credit: VPS
Published: 10 August, 2022

Continue Reading


Kambara Kisen orders methanol dual-fuel bulker from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding

Firm ordered a 65,700-dwt methanol dual-fuel dry bulk carrier with Tsuneishi Shipbuilding; MOL signed a basic agreement on time charter for the newbuilding that is slated to be delivered in 2027.





Kambara Kisen orders methanol dual-fuel bulker from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding

Japanese shipowner Kambara Kisen has ordered a 65,700-dwt methanol dual-fuel dry bulk carrier newbuilding from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd, according to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) on Wednesday (20 September).

MOL said it signed a basic agreement on time charter for the newbuilding that is slated to be delivered in 2027. 

The vessel will be designed to use e-methanol produced primarily by synthesising recovered CO2 and hydrogen produced using renewable energy sources, and bio-methanol derived from biogas. 

The vessel's design maximises cargo space while ensuring sufficient methanol tank capacity set to allow the required navigational distance assuming various routes, at the same time maximising cargo space. 

MOL added the vessel is expected to serve mainly in the transport of biomass fuels from the east coast of North America to Europe and the U.K. and within the Pacific region, as well as grain from the east coast of South America and the U.S. Gulf Coast to Europe and the Far East.

Details on the time-charter contract:

Shipowner: Kambara Kisen wholly owned subsidiary
Charterer: MOL Drybulk Ltd.
Charter period 2027: -

Details on the newbuilding methanol dual fuel bulk carrier:

LOA: About 200 m
Breadth: About 32.25 m
Draft: About 13.80 m
Deadweight: About 65,700 MT
Hold capacity: About 81,500m3
Shipyard: Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.

Photo credit: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines
Published: 22 September, 2023

Continue Reading


Argus Media: Alternatives may drive methanol market growth

Driven by low-carbon policies and regulations, the transportation sector — especially the marine fuels industry — could be a source of heightened demand, according to Argus.





RESIZED Argus media

The growth of sustainable alternatives to traditional methanol production sources likely will shape the market over the next several years, industry leaders said this week at the Argus Methanol Forum.

20 September 

Driven by low-carbon policies and regulations, the transportation sector — especially the marine fuels industry — could be a source of heightened demand.

"The aim is to be net zero by 2050 but [those solutions are] expensive today and one of the main challenges to build e-methanol or bio-methanol plants is a huge queue for these pieces of equipment that aren't available," Anita Gajadhar, executive director for Swiss-based methanol producer Proman, said.

Bio-based and e-methanol plants of commercial scale, like Proman's natural gas-fed 1.9 million metric tonne/yr M5000 plant in Trinidad and Tobago, are not ready today.

"But that's not to say 10 years from now they won't be there," Gajadhar added.

Smaller projects are popping up. Dutch fuels and gas supplier OCI Global announced plans last week to double the green methanol capacity at its Beaumont, Texas, facility to 400,000 t/yr and will add e-methanol to production for the first time. Production will use feedstocks such as renewable natural gas (RNG), green hydrogen and biogas.

The globally oversupplied methanol market will not get any major supply additions starting in 2024 until 2027. But that oversupply will not last long, Gajadhar said.

Global demand has slowed this year, driven by stagnate economic growth and higher interest rates, according to industry observers.

As much as half of methanol demand is tied to GDP growth, with total methanol demand estimates at 88.9mn t globally in 2023. This is essentially flat from 2022, but up from 88.3m t in 2021 and 87.7mn t in 2020, Dave McCaskill, vice-president of methanol and derivatives for Argus Media's consulting service, said.

Demand is not expected to rebound to 2019 levels of 89.6mn t until 2024 or 2025, he added.

The period of oversupply combined with lackluster demand places methanol in a transition period, Gajadhar said, which opens the door for sustainable feedstock alternatives to shape market growth.

Danish container shipping giant Maersk and French marine logistics company CMA-CGM announced earlier this week a partnership to drive decarbonization in shipping. The partnership seeks to develop fuel and operations standards for bunkering with alternative fuels. The companies will develop net-zero solutions, including new technology and alternative fuels.

Maersk has previously ordered dual-fuel methanol-powered vessels and CMA-CGM LNG-propelled vessels.

The demand for alternative feedstock-derived fuels is there, but the ability to scale-up such production lags. Certified lower-carbon methanol produced using carbon capture and sequestration — also known as blue methanol— can ramp up much more quickly, according to Gajadhar.

By Steven McGinn

Photo credit and source: Argus Media
Published: 22 September, 2023

Continue Reading


Royal Caribbean completes over 12 weeks of bio bunker fuel testing in Europe

Firm expanded its biofuel testing this summer in Europe to two additional ships — Royal Caribbean International’s “Symphony of the Seas” and Celebrity Cruises’ “Celebrity Apex”.





Royal Caribbean completes over 12 weeks of bio bunker fuel testing in Europe

Royal Caribbean Group on Tuesday (19 September) said it successfully completed over 12 consecutive weeks of biofuel testing in Europe. 

Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas became the first ship in the maritime industry to successfully test and use a biofuel blend in Barcelona to meet part of her fuel needs. 

The company confirmed onboard technical systems met operational standards, without quality or safety concerns, demonstrating the biofuel blend is a reliable “drop in” supply of lower emission energy that ships can use to set sail across Europe and beyond. 

The tests across Europe also provided valuable data to understand the availability and scalability of biofuel in the region, the firm added. 

Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group, said: “This is a pivotal moment for Royal Caribbean Group’s alternative fuel journey.”

“Following our successful trial of biofuels this summer, we are one step closer to bringing our vision for net-zero cruising to life. As we strive to protect and promote the vibrant oceans we sail, we are determined to accelerate innovation and improve how we deliver vacation experiences responsibly.”

President of the Port of Barcelona, Lluís Salvadó, said: “Royal Caribbean’s success is a clear example of how commitment to innovation makes possible the development of solutions to decarbonise the maritime sector.”

“In this case, it involves the cruise sector and focuses on biofuels, an area in which the Port of Barcelona is already working to become an energy hub, producing and supplying zero carbon fuels, such as green hydrogen and ammonia, and of other almost zero-carbon alternative fuels, such as methanol, biofuels or synthetic fuels. Innovation and collaboration between ports and shipping companies is key to accelerate the decarbonisation of maritime transport.”

The company began testing biofuels last year and expanded the trail this summer in Europe to two additional ships — Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex

The sustainable biofuel blends tested were produced by purifying renewable raw materials like waste oils and fats and combining them with fuel oil to create an alternative fuel that is cleaner and more sustainable. The biofuel blends tested are accredited by International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), a globally recognized organization that ensures sustainability of biofuels and verifies reductions of related emissions.

With Symphony of the Seas departing from the Port of Barcelona and Celebrity Apex departing from the Port of Rotterdam, both ships accomplished multiple sailings using biofuel and contributed critical data on the fuel’s capabilities. 

“These results will help accelerate Royal Caribbean Group’s plans to continue testing the use of different types of biofuels on upcoming European sailings this fall. The company is exploring strategic partnerships with suppliers and ports to ensure the availability of biofuel and infrastructures to advance the maritime energy transition,” the firm said. 

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean Group 
Published: 22 September, 2023

Continue Reading