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Intertek launches ‘fast screening’ GCMS for contaminated bunkers

06 Sep 2018

London-based multinational inspection, product testing and certification company Intertek has launched a Direct Injection Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) service for detecting contaminated marine fuel.

“The new technique is designed to augment the already extensive portfolio of forensic analysis techniques offered, and following in the footsteps of the original fast Chemical Screening Service pioneered by Lintec Testing Services Ltd, Intertek ShipCare can now provide a fast screening GCMS tool that, not only supports existing screening capabilities, but also significantly extends their scope,” says Intertek.

“This new Direct Injection GCMS Screening program is a unique analysis tool which offers the full benefit of a Direct Injection GCMS technique without incurring significant delay in supplying the results to Intertek ShipCare clients. 

“This technique offers an in-depth insight into potential underlying issues, can be carried out in a much shorter time frame (along-side the standard suite of ISO 8217 tests) and can identify a wide range of potential contaminants that would only usually be visible when using a much more intensive GCMS analytical suite of tests.”

Recent fuel contamination cases observed in and around the US Gulf Coast and Panama, coupled with the suggestion of further similar problems in Singapore, has posed a significant problem for fuel purchasers, notes the company.

It has been suggested that over one hundred vessels have suffered problems with sticking fuel pumps as well as significant wear damage associated with seized injection equipment.

Whilst, in the vast majority of cases, the fuels supplied were tested in accordance with ISO 8217 requirements prior to use, no cause for concern was observed during testing that could have hinted at the resulting issues experienced during use.

Industry stakeholders are currently in a position of ongoing gathering and assessment of evidence in order to provide definitive answers as to how this fuel contamination happened and how the industry can learn from this and prevent such problems happening again.

“It is well documented that the evolution of legislative reform presents new and unusual issues for fuel buyers to consider. In an attempt to comply with changing emission regulations, fuel suppliers are constantly looking at producing greater quantities of compliant product,” says the company.

“This, in turn, can mean that fuel buyers are faced with a wide range of “new and different” fuels in an ever expanding supply chain.

“Looking ahead, specifically at the introduction of the 0.50% m/m Sulphur limit in 2020, the industry looks set to see another influx of blended fuels that could possibly give rise to similar challenges to those experienced when the 1.00% m/m Sulphur limit was introduced in 2010.

“Intensive blending could provide an opportunity for unregulated blend / cutter stocks to pass into the marine pool – this has been proven to be detrimental to fuel quality in the past.

“Given the issues experienced by operators previously, and the potential for further issues as a result of new legislative requirements, the identification of potential problem components in fuels becomes a critical concern for fuel purchasers who wish to protect their assets.”

Published: 6 September, 2018

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