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Veritas Petroleum Services summarises bunker fuel related issues of 2020 in three main points

20 Nov 2020

Maritime related concerns regarding Covid-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), such as crewing onboard ships, have overshadowed bunker fuel related issues in 2020, believes the Managing Director AMEA of international fuel testing and inspection firm Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS).

Captain Rahul Choudhuri was among panellists at the APAC: Bunker Quality Panel of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) Convention on Wednesday (11 November); the session was moderated by Stefka Wechsler, marine fuel and fuel oil price analyst, Argus Media.

While crewing concerns are important, Captain Choudhuri was quick to note this does not mean bunker fuel related issues have indeed disappeared from the shipping sector; he proceeded to share VPS’ experience to date.

“My first point is the shipping industry has been a very poor user of international fuel quality standards,” he states.

“As I have said before, 30% of the international shipping industry are still using the obsolete 2005 version of the ISO 8217 marine fuel quality standard.

“If this is the case, players get left behind every time ISO introduces a new marine fuel quality standard.

“It is really crucial for all parties in the international shipping industry to actually take on board these new standards which are being developed because they are technically better than the last one.”

Captain Choudhuri revealed the latest ISO 8217:2017 marine fuel quality standard (which is under review now at ISO) takes into account important changes such as cold flow properties; a parameter not covered in ISO 8217:2005 or ISO 8217:2010.

He explained the ISO 8217 development team is using information from various bunker fuels testing agencies to build an entire database of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oils (VLSFOs) to find out what the new specifications should be, including viscosity changes.

“So, I think we should let this group do their work. But my point is that the industry needs to use it.”

The issue of VLSFO instability was regarded by Captain Choudhuri as another important matter to note this year.

“The cause could be due to a number of issues, such as high sediment, waxing, or even chemical contamination,” he says.

“My point is the evaluation of these problems needs to be better understood. There needs to be better management oversight over the prevention of sludging and filter plugging when using VLSFOs.”

He said the Singapore National Marine Committee has proposed for a suite of additional tests to detect VLSFO related issues, and suggests concerned parties to look into conducting further tests as well.

The importance of bunker fuel sampling was lastly highlighted by Captain Choudhuri.

“Our data shows 20% of bunker fuel samples have either not been taken properly, or documented properly. If you don’t take a proper sample, you don’t get a proper result,” he said.

“This is a very important area which is why I feel that the role of the bunker surveyor is even more important in different places around the world, especially in this COVID year when ships and barges are not supposed to meet each other or talk to each other.

“Hence, I think the role of the surveyors as an arbitrator or a verifier is really front and centre.”

Related: SIBCON 2020: VPS proposes mandate of latest bunker fuel quality standards for Singapore market


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 19 November, 2020

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