Various major bunker fuel suppliers are offering new fuels to meet the new ECA regulations which came into force on 1st January 2015. There are at least 8 to 12 suppliers who are offering this fuel in the market including Exxon Mobil, Luk Oil, Cepsa Marine, Shell, BP, Gazprom, Phillips 66, Chem Oil and Neste Oil.
Use this Inter-active image to browse through the important points.
Ordering the new ECA fuels?
Here are 8 important points to keep in mind when you order such fuels.
- Pour Point: Some of the new fuels have high pour point which will be of concern in colder waters. The problem with pour point is really the storage in the tanks. If these tanks are hull tanks and if the temperature of sea water goes down (which is very likely) below the pour point, wax crystals will be formed thereby leading to a complete freezing up of the tank. The tank heating has to be very efficient and foolproof. If the wax crystals do form, heating it back to the pour point will not be enough. It will have to be heated 10 to 15 C more for the wax to remelt.
- Lubricity: Most of the new fuels seem alright, but to be on the safe side, a value of 400 microns is to be treated as borderline which is the case of one of the supplies.
- Compatibility with existing Bunkers: These fuels in general are highly paraffinic. This means the compatibility of this fuel with any other fuel will be difficult. It may not tolerate a high level of blending. Perhaps less than 5% to 10%. Exxon Mobil states that mingling with more than 2% of LSMGO may result in instability.
- Long Term Storage: It is safe to assume that any storage in excess of 6 months will require an additional testing to check the bacterial, fungal growth and any other deterioration within the fuel. The dissolved water in a fuel is up to 200 ppm. This is the absolute minimum water. Any presence of water is the breeding ground for bacteria. If the fuel contains even 0.1% water, it has to be checked if the storage exceeds 6 months.
- Availability: Assuming that these fuels are fit to be used, it is important to ascertain their availability around the globe. Worldwide, at this point of time these fuels are available in limited form. This has to be kept in mind when planning for new bunkers.
- Cylinder Lubrication: Oil Suppliers have developed new lube oils to use with the 0.1% LS fuels. Exxon Mobil (Mobilgard 525 CLO), Chevron (Taro Special HT LF (2-STROKE) and Delo SHP (4-Stroke)), Shell (Alexia S3) and Total Lubmarine (Talusia LS 25) have all introduced new lubes recently. These lubes have a TBN around 25 and are engineered to address engine issues seen on vessels such as deposit formation and scuffing when operated on low sulphur bunker fuels and are expected to be available in ports where the ECA compliant fuels will be available.
- Fuel Change Over Procedures: Fuel changeover procedures should be clearly established and communicated to ship staff.
- Fuel Specification: One important point to note is that these fuels have not received any special classification in ISO 8217.
There could be many other operational points which can be specified – and those will be covered in the next technical write-up.
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