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Singapore: Maritec releases whitepaper reviewing VLSFO bunker fuel 

Study reviews fuel stability, fuel stability reserve, and the corresponding analysis techniques of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oils given that fuel stability is the primary concern with this fuel type, says Maritec.

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Bunker fuel testing and marine surveying business Maritec Pte Ltd (Maritec) on Friday (29 September) published a whitepaper on reviewing fuel stability, fuel stability reserve, and the corresponding analysis techniques of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oils (VLSFOs).

The following are excerpts from the ‘Analysis Methods for Measuring Stability, Stability Reserve & Compatibility of Residual Marine Fuels’:

Introduction

Since 1 January 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has enforced a 0.50% global sulphur cap for the shipping industry to reduce sulphur oxide emissions. A comparison of pre-IMO 2020 fuels and post-IMO 2020 fuels reveals that the latter exhibit greater instability, waxiness, lower density & viscosity, lower micro carbon residue (MCR), lower calculated carbon aromaticity index (CCAI), lower vanadium content, higher net specific energy, higher pour point, and higher acid number. The decreased stability reserve (higher paraffinic and lower aromatic content) of post-IMO 2020 fuels also raises concerns about compatibility issues when different fuels are mixed.

To address these challenges, Maritec lab is equipped with the necessary equipment and testing methods to assess the cleanliness, stability, stability reserve, compatibility, and cold flow properties of post-IMO fuels. Given that fuel stability is the primary concern with Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oils (VLSFOs), this article focuses on reviewing fuel stability, fuel stability reserve, and the corresponding analysis techniques.

Blending of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO, IMO 2020 Compliant Fuel)

IMO global sulphur cap of 0.5%S has changed the primary blending target from viscosity and density to sulphur. Marine fuels post-IMO 2020 has seen a wide variability of fuel formulations and characteristics.

Typically, very low sulphur fuel oils can be blended using three categories of blend stocks (1):

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 11.13.58 AM 1

Blending of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO, IMO 2020 Compliant Fuel)

IMO global sulphur cap of 0.5%S has changed the primary blending target from viscosity and density to sulphur. Marine fuels post-IMO 2020 has seen a wide variability of fuel formulations and characteristics.

Typically, very low sulphur fuel oils can be blended using three categories of blend stocks (1):

Based on the available blend stocks, very low sulphur fuel oils can generally be blended into four major types/groups:

Screenshot 2023 10 02 at 11.15.33 AM

Fuel characteristics evolution and potential quality issues due to 0.5%S Limit

Post-IMO 2020 fuels (VLSFOs) exhibit lower density, lower viscosity, lower MCR (Micro Carbon Residue), lower CCAI (Calculated Carbon Aromaticity Index), lower vanadium content, higher net specific energy, higher pour point, and higher acid number compared to pre-IMO 2020 fuels

It is also noted that VLSFOs generally have better ignition and combustion properties, which contribute to efficient fuel utilization and combustion processes.

However, there is a rise in cold flow property issues within paraffinic-grade very low sulphur fuel oils (VLSFOs), characterized by higher pour points, can potentially introduce concerns regarding cold flow problems, particularly wax formation.

An increase in fuel stability issues is also observed which arises from two factors. Firstly, the use of hydrotreated blend stocks reduces the stability reserve of the fuel due to lower aromaticity and asphaltene solubility. Secondly, when low sulphur aromatic and paraffinic blend stocks are mixed, fuel instability may occur if the blend lacks adequate aromatic content to dissolve the asphaltenes present. Additionally, an increase in fuel compatibility issues can occur when aromatic and paraffinic-grade VLSFOs are co-mingled, leading to incompatibility and potential flocculation of asphaltenes if the blend lacks sufficient aromatics.

Conclusion

The factors that influence stability of residual fuels are fuel formulation (an internal factor, fuel blend itself – on whether the fuel has sufficient aromaticity or contains any appreciable amount on non-hydrocarbons especially non-hydrocarbons containing hydroxyl group such as alkylresorcianols/alkyl-1,3-benzenediols and others) and the external factors such as thermal & mechanical stress and storage time/duration.

The data collated in this article indicates that most of the unstable fuels or marginally stable fuels that cause sludging and filter clogging issues were mostly due to fuel formulation (an internal factor) - either high or borderline high total sediment due to the presence of chemical contaminants, fuels containing appreciable amount of non-hydrocarbons that contain hydroxyl group such as alkylresorcianols/alkyl-1,3-benzenediols, phenolic compounds and others.

Our past historical data indicated that there are also instances that fuels are detected with certain concentration of alkylresorcinols, phenolic compounds and slightly reactive hydrocarbons however the vessels are able to consume the fuels without any operational issues. It is recommended that when a fuel is detected with the presence of alkylresorcinols, phenolic compounds and slightly reactive hydrocarbons, it is important that fuel stability reserve for the fuel shall also be evaluated, if the fuel is identified to contain alkylresorcinols, phenolic compounds & slightly reactive hydrocarbons and the fuel is also unstable or marginally stable, the vessel is recommended practice the aforementioned preventive measures to prevent, reduce and solve the potential sludging and filter clogging issues.

Moving Forward

In the near future when biofuels is widely adopted as drop-in marine fuel to achieve the regulatory requirements on reduction of carbon/GHG emission, due to the diversity of the liquid cutter stocks derived from biomass, marine fuel stability and marine fuel stability reserve will become critical test parameters.

Note: The full version of the ‘Analysis Methods for Measuring Stability, Stability Reserve & Compatibility of Residual Marine Fuels’ whitepaper can be viewed here.

Photo credit: Maritec Pte Ltd
Published: 2 October, 2023

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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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Events

VPS organises bunker fuel quality and new fuels seminar in China

Seminar, to be held on 28 March at the 30th floor of Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, will primarily focus on navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by bio bunker fuels.

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RESIZED VPS logo

Marine fuels testing company VPS on Thursday (7 March) announced its upcoming Fuel Quality, New Fuels and Decarbonisation Challenges Seminar that will be held in Shanghai, China. 

The seminar, to be held on 28 March at the 30th floor of Jin Mao Tower in Shanghai, will primarily focus on navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by bio bunker fuels.

“In line with our commitment to providing top-tier technical support, this seminar aims to equip our partners with the knowledge and tools needed to embrace biofuels as a sustainable alternative fuel source,” it said in a social media post. 

Capt. Rahul Choudhuri, President Strategic Partnerships of VPS, will be presenting the first session on Fuel Quality and New Fuels Challenges

Following that, Mr James Huang, Senior Vice President, DNV, will present Shipping Decarbonisation Challenges

There will also be a panel discussion with industry experts including Mr Tian Ming, General Manager, Enterprise Management and Development Division of CHIMBUSCO, Mr Li Ling, Head of Technical Support of DNV Maritime Greater China and Mr Zhao Kai, Chief Representative China of the Methanol Institute. 

Note: More details on VPS’ Fuel Quality, New Fuels & Decarbonisation Challenges Seminar can be found here while registration form to join the event can be found here.

 

Photo credit: VPS
Published: 8 March 2024

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