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Linear calculation of bunker fuel blend component properties ‘is a large mistake’

08 Apr 2020

New Jersey-based international blending advisory company Refinery Automation Institute, LLC. (RAI) in early April published a research paper focusing on the nonlinearity of bunker component properties and its solutions.

The paper IMO 2020 and the importance of nonlinear blending properties calculation was written by Eliseo Curcio, the Vice President and CFO at RAI.

“This might seem like an easy concept, but the majority of blenders and shipowners calculate bunker blend component properties linearly,” he said.

“This is a large mistake, one that overestimates or underestimates valuable or safety-related properties (i.e., viscosity, flashpoint, pour point, etc.) and can result in significant financial losses.”

Curcio explained bunker fuel oil and hydrocarbon based components do not “attract” each other, and chemical interactions modify the behaviour of the solution or blend when components are mixed together.

He showed examples of differences between results of linear and nonlinear calculated bunker blends, and validated the accuracy of nonlinear calculations with data from a fuel testing laboratory.

“The IMO 2020 sulfur bunker regulations make it economically vital to consider the difference between linear and nonlinear property calculation results, and their potential impact on profit or loss,” concludes Curcio.

“A terminal or refinery that produces 100,000 tpd of bunker fuel shows a difference of $44 MM/yr in profit just by considering the nonlinearity of the blend property calculation.

“The economic benefit is not the only advantage of using the nonlinear correlation. As previously mentioned, using the wrong calculations for properties like flashpoint, pour point and compatibility can significantly impact the quality of the final bunker product, as well as the safety of operations.

“Blenders and terminal operators should sell compliant VLSFO that meets all specifications and is both stable and compatible.”

The complete paper IMO 2020 and the importance of nonlinear blending properties calculation is available for viewing at this link.

Related: ISO 8217 standard not realistic for 0.5%S VLSFO, says bunker blending veteran

Photo credit: Refinery Automation Institute

Published: 8 April, 2020


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