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SMW 2019: Traditional days of fuel procurement are over, says VPS

15 Apr 2019

Fuel management for vessels have entered a new era and will need to be taken much more seriously going forward due to IMO 2020, says the Managing Director, AMEA, of international fuel testing and inspection company Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS).

“What we see changing for 2020 is fuel management has finally come out front and centre,” Captain Rahul Choudhuri told delegates in the ‘A Practical Response to Upcoming Regulations’ forum at Sea Asia 2019.

“The procurement method of fuel has traditionally been to acquire product at the cheapest cost – those days are over. Fuel management as a disciple will get much attention going forward.

“Within fuel management I see a number of pieces of the puzzle where decision makers will now need to choose wisely between all aspects of bunker fuel – be it quality, quantity, and crew training, smart fuel statistics – while taking into account regulations.”

Additionally, fuel quality management has gotten more complex with every new maritime environmental legislation and introduction of hybrid marine fuels, notes Choudhuri.

“Last year we seen fuel quality issues in 19 countries around the world not really restricted to any specific port, very much global,” he says.

“If you look at 2020, we going to be faced with a new type of fuel. These are very interesting fuels and at the beginning I would say we are ‘cautiously optimistic’.

“We been testing these new fuels for the last six months. I think they are pretty stable fuels with very good energy content; though the fuels come with a very wide range of viscosity, it seems to be heading toward 180 centistokes and we have to see how it evolves.

“We also have seen a couple of cases of poor stability, issues with flash point and some cases of higher acid number which could introduce some corrosive properties.

“Otherwise, they all meet the 0.5% sulphur level cap for IMO 2020 compliance.”

Choudhuri notes the compatibility for the new hybrid fuels to be better than the situation encountered in 2015 when the European Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) took effect mandating the consumption of 0.1% sulphur content marine fuel within the region.

“We think that is perhaps the refining industry now has more than five years to develop themselves and the 0.5% sulphur limit fuels are easier to blend compared to 0.1%,” he explains.

“Our initial findings look pretty good and this is not the case five years ago [in 2015] when the 0.10% Sulphur ULSFO fuels had poor compatibility and you get a lot of sludge which eventually affects engine performance.”

Moving forward, Choudhuri recommends shipowners choosing to consume hybrid fuels for IMO 2020 compliance to implement a marine fuel testing programme due to the varying availability levels of hybrid fuels at different global ports.

“One of big shipowners said they will probably have contracts for these new fuels at key ports from different suppliers,” he shares.

“I think it is really important to run trial blends; if you are going to run five types of fuel around the world you need to know if they compatible.

“Now is the time to decide if you want to be the leader of the pack and get your homework done, or face possible issues and likely sail into trouble if deciding to pick up on fuel management halfway into the year.”

Photo credit: VPS
Published: 15 April, 2019


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