Two important facts to know before we proceed to deal with Low Flashpoint fuels.
- IMOs regulation on low sulfur fuel stipulates vessels can burn fuels with a sulfur content no higher than 0.10%. Therefore, dependency on Marine gas oil (MGO) is an expensive yet most suitable alternative for ship operators.
- ECA compliance with LSMGO costs less – It is essential and worthy to note that Purchasing ECA compliant 0.10% sulphur (LSMGO) is only $470/MT in Rotterdam, $560 in Houston and $485 in Singapore. This is at least $200/MT below the low sulphur 380 fuel in the middle of 2014. It is also $150/MT less than the price of high sulphur 380 fuel in June last year when bunker prices were at their peak.*
Thus as the price of LSMGO falls, more ships look forward to bunker LSMGO. As the demand increases, it seems more of automobile gas oils are being supplied to ships, which has a risk of a low flash point.
How to deal with a distillate fuel when it has a Low Flashpoint?
MGO with less than 60 deg C Flashpoint
A fuel with flashpoint less than 60 deg C falls outside the SOLAS requirement of a flashpoint of 60 deg C minimum and also the ISO 8217 specifications. As per SOLAS requirements, the minimum flash point of any fuel carried in the tanks of a ship should be not less than 60 deg C. There is no permissible negative tolerance. This applies to any fuel onboard the vessel (with an exception of fuel for lifeboats which can be grade DMX with a flash point min of 43 degC).
It is essential that the fuel supplier must be notified for supplying off-specification fuel. Further actions are required as per charter party clause and other legal procedures. If you have no option but to use this fuel, we give our recommendations below.
If a fuel has a small quantity of lighter fractions mixed in it which gives a low flashpoint, as the lighter fractions keep evaporating the flashpoint improves. For example, a fuel with Flashpoint of 57degC could come up to 60 degC. We have only seen this when the flashpoint has been 57 degC or higher.
Blending with another fuel to raise the flashpoint is an option. There are a few points to note with regard to blending.
- Blending a clear and bright MGO with another clear and bright MGO can be done without checking compatibility. Blending to raise flashpoint in not a straight line calculation. We give below two example of actual lab tests.
- 50 % of MGO with FP of 57 blended with 50% of MGO with FP 68 – Resultant mix had flashpoint of 61 deg C
- 70 % of MGO with FP of 57 blended with 30% of HFO with FP 68 – Resultant mix had flashpoint of 60 deg C”
- Blending with a heavy fuel is an option but the compatibility of the two fuels has to be checked. Heavy fuels tend to have higher flash points (over 100 degC).
If the above options are considered, we recommend that the flashpoint be tested on a small portion of the mix before the entire quantity is mixed.
If you think that there could be an additive to increase the flashpoint, then you have to note that – till now there are no additives to increase the flashpoint of the fuel.
(*Prices quoted above are from last quarter of 2014 and from other statistics).
Do voice your queries/comments below. We would be highly happy to answer them.