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CIMAC REPORTS ON OFF-SPEC FUEL ISSUES

Thursday, November 22, 2018  (Comments: 1)

CIMACís WG7 Working Group on Fuels has reported on a number of issues experienced by various vessels following residual fuel bunkering in Houston in March 2018.

A statement issued by the group says that although all fuels analysed met the ISO 8217, Table 2 requirements, ships experienced sticking engine fuel pumps and some also reported separator sludging and filter blocking.

Since then, it is estimated that close to 100 ships, estimated as 2-3% of the bunker deliveries in the Houston area alone, reported problems consuming the fuel received during a 9 week period starting in March. In a few cases, the vessels were reported to have been left without propulsion and electrical power which, says the statement, presents a serious situation with regards to safety of the ship and the crew on board. This was followed by scattered reports of fuel sludging and owners seeking to debunker products they had lifted in Panama and Singapore for fear the Houston problem had spread there.

The problematic fuels bunkered in Houston were supplied by around 10 different suppliers and from a range of barges.

Review of the reported cases has shown that the incidences were not isolated to any specific machinery, component make or brand of affected separators, filters, two-stroke engines and four-stroke engines. To complicate matters further, the analytical investigations revealed that not all of these fuels had the same fingerprint parameters and further to this, a vast majority of the ships bunkering in the affected ports during this period did not report any issues despite having received fuels which seem to have originated from the same source.

The group statement says that no final and concrete conclusion can be made as to what specifically in the fuel formulation may have caused these incidents. Investigative testing has shown a range of chemical species in the fuel oils, mostly at low levels although some samples showed more significant concentrations. There are no consistent findings that can be used to clearly distinguish problematic fuels or to conclude that the blending process was at fault or how any of the chemical species had made its way into the fuel.

Based on the available information, CIMAC Fuels has concluded that so far there is no explanation as to the root cause of the problems other than some incident has likely occurred further upstream.

CIMAC suggests that ship operators should closely monitor machinery in those locations where problematic fuels have been supplied, and if issues are experienced, the case should be logged in detail and samples taken at the time of the incident.

Reader Comments (1)

The US coastguard has issued a warning on this fuel. This gives the details in the composition of this fuel.

By Dilan Wickremeratne on Monday, November 26, 2018

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