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Incorporating Clean Shipping International

IS MARINE FUEL A TOXIC MIX? ASKS GARD

Friday, September 7, 2018 

The latest bulletin from Gard of Norway highlights the renewed challenges being faced by the marine fuel supply chain. Various port authorities have cracked down on some bunker suppliers and removed their licences.

More recently, attempts by some suppliers to blend with cutter stock or shale oil to meet minimum ISO specifications for fuel intended for trading vessels, have resulted in numerous engine breakdowns at sea, due to damaged or blocked fuel injection valves and filters requiring replacement.

The problem was originally detected with bunkers supplied in the US Gulf, but has since extended to Panama, Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea.

This, says Gard, exposes ships’ crews to unacceptable dangers, with the potential for environmental catastrophes, vessels suffering physical damage, and owners and operators suffering loss of earnings. Gard shares these experiences with our Members and assured clients, as we are a hull underwriter with responsibility for insuring physical damage to main engines and loss of hire insurance. We are a P&I club which covers crew risks and fines, and we also offer a Comprehensive Charterers cover which is impacted by liability to owners for contaminated fuel supply damage. Further, our Defence lawyers frequently advise on rights and responsibilities between owners and charterers with respect to bunkers supplied to the vessel. 

Shipowners who transport about 90% of world trade, together with their insurers, are facing increased regulatory and environmental compliance pressures. Shipowners need the certainty of knowing they have access to readily available, economic fuel supplies of good quality. Intertanko has published a critical review and called on governments and regulatory authorities to take a firm stand. They have also called upon their tanker members to send in examples and details of incidents experienced.

IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) is developing guidelines to support the implementation of the 2020 sulphur limit. As part of this process, the Sub-Committee will review best practice guidance for fuel oil suppliers, as well as best practices for member states/coastal states to assist with compliance, and enforcement of their responsibilities. This will fall under MARPOL Annex VI and will be considered at MEPC 73 in October 2018.

Additionally, Gard draws attention to the fact that, as of 1 October 2018, ships operating in China’s Yangtze River Delta domestic ECA can no longer use fuel with a sulphur content exceeding 0.5%, unless an approved exhaust gas cleaning system is installed.

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