Star International, supplier to the offshore and marine industries, has launched a range of on-board fuel testing and treatment products that provide a turnkey fuel stewardship solution to the shipping sector.
The range has been developed to meet the requirements of shipping operators wanting to ensure compliance with the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO’s) 0.5% sulphur cap and minimise the contamination risks associated with an increase of Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) based fuels in the marine supply chain.
The product range includes a portable XRF fuel sulphur content tester which can be used to confirm the sulphur mixture of fuel in the range of 0.1% – 5.0%. This is complimented by the Star FUELSTAT contamination testing kit, used on-board to detect Hormoconis resinae (diesel bug), bacteria and fungi.
Testing capabilities are complemented with the Star Mariner range of fuel treatments. These marine-specific additives can be used to treat common problems arising from the use of FAME based fuels, including: contamination, temperature induced coagulation and degradation.
“IMO 2020 is set to cause considerable uncertainty within the marine fuel supply chain, in terms of both the composition of the fuel being supplied and its susceptibility to contamination” says Alan Stewart, Marine Fuel Consultant at Start International.
“On the one hand you have an obligation to ensure that fuel is within the prescribed sulphur limits, and on the other operators will want to ensure that the fuel is free of contamination at the point of on-boarding.”
“Even for operators who opt for exhaust scrubbers or similar technologies over low sulphur fuels, there is huge scope for cross contamination, meaning that testing at the point of refuelling is really the only way to confirm what you are bringing on-board.”
The IMO 2020 regulations are designed to lower the volume of sulphur oxides (SOx) produced by global shipping and curb air pollution attributed to the sector. While shipping operators can adhere to the targets by choosing to switch to alternative fuels such as LNG, or by fitting ‘scrubbing’ technologies to remove sulphur at the exhaust, the limit will mean that many fuel producers will turn to blended fuel oils containing FAME to create complaint biofuel alternatives.
Reliance on FAMES will help to achieve the targets set out by the IMO. However, concerns have been voiced by maritime experts that the move will leave the marine fuel supply chain open to an enhanced risk of contamination.
“This has already proven the case in UK agricultural and plant fuel supplies, where higher FAME concentrations of circa 7% entered the supply chain during Q2 2019,” adds Stewart.
“This has resulted in widespread microbial contamination, together with storage issues including temperature induced coagulation and degradation of fuel while in storage.
“Due to the rise in FAME, end users in these sectors are now relying on fuel additives to protect their hardware from damage, reduce downtime and ensure that fuel remains in a usable condition when in storage. Given the complexities of implementing IMO 2020, a similar situation in the marine supply chain would not be surprising.”
Photo Credit: Star International
Published: 5 February, 2020
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