The Business of Selling ISO 8217


Dr-R.-Vis-CEO-of-Viswa-Lab1.jpgWhy is it called “The Business of Selling”?

The reason is that the ISO 8217:2017 standard itself does not have the intrinsic merit to sell itself.

This has been the fate of ISO 8217:2010 and ISO 8217:2012 also. Strenuous efforts were made to sell the standard and it did not succeed. We know this since more than 85% of the samples we test even today are as per ISO 8217:2005.

The “Experts” who are selling ISO 8217:2017 claim loudly that this standard is an improvement over the earlier version. In fact, their claim is that every version is an improvement over the previous version.

Improvement in terms of what? It is certainly not an improvement in the quality of the fuel. Reducing the catfine limit from 80 ppm to 60 ppm does not bring about quality when the global average is only 20ppm. It is obvious to those in the industry that the 60ppm is intended to accommodate some suppliers who are not able to supply at around 20 ppm. If the standard bends over backward to accommodate the 60 ppm suppliers, what will happen onboard the ship? Often, purifier efficiency is no more than 50 to 60%. If we assume a 50% efficiency, the fuel entering the engine will have 30 ppm of catfines. All engine makers are continuously reducing the limit of catfines entering the engine from 25 to 20 to 15 ppm. In fact, they are considering lowering this to 8 ppm. In what way is this standard improving the fuel quality and helping the fuel user?

The second most deliberate and systematic changes made in this standard is to take away the onus of supplying poor quality fuels from the suppliers themselves. That onus has been passed on to the refineries, terminals, barges, all of whom are required to have proper quality maintenance systems!!

Therefore, now, the supplier can turn around and tell the buyer or the fuel user that, he is not responsible for whatever is wrong with the fuel. It is somebody else and he does not control that “Somebody”. Therefore, if you get a bad quality fuel and the machinery is damaged, too bad! You cannot blame the supplier. He never did anything wrong.

Do you accept this?

Yet, that is what ISO 8217:2017 is saying by referencing Annex B Deleterious Materials. In order to strengthen the argument in favor of suppliers, ISO 8217:2017 also comes up with the untrue statement that

“c) various analytical techniques are used to detect specific chemical species with no Standardized approach, and

d) in most cases, sufficient data are not available with respect to the effects of any one specific material, or combinations thereof, on the variety of marine machinery systems in service, on personnel or on the environment.”

Annex B goes on to say “It is therefore not practical to require detailed chemical analysis for each delivery of fuels beyond the requirements in Table 1 or Table 2.”

This is contrary to the fact that ASTM D7845 “Chemical Species in Marine Fuel Oil by multi-dimensional GCMS” was published in 2013 which standardizes the testing procedure to identify contaminants and adulterants in the fuel. We have been identifying harmful chemicals in Bunker Fuels since 1994.

The English law has provided protection for a transaction under “Fitness for Purpose” which states that any bunkers supplied would have to be of a reasonable general and merchantable quality, reasonably suitable for the particular vessel’s engines and reasonable fit for the purpose intended.”

It does seem unfair that the supplier will not take the responsibility for poor quality fuel though he is the one who is transacting the business deal and collecting the money from the fuel buyer. How can he escape the responsibility for the quality of the fuel?

Again, it is worth re-emphasizing that the quality of the fuel does not end with conformance with Table 1 and 2 of the standards. It is required that the fuel should not be harmful to personnel, jeopardize the safety of the ship, or adversely affect the performance of the machinery.

With regard to distillate fuels, it is a requirement for the suppliers to report Cloud Point and Cold Filter Plugging Point (CFPP). If no limits are specified, the mere requirement of reporting it will only end in more disputes.

Considering the important points listed above, it will be quite a job to convince the fuel buyer to accept ISO 8217:2017. If the buyer does not buy this fuel attempts have to be made to sell it to him. Who will sell it to him? Only those who profit by the use of this standard. We are again, referring only to the minority of suppliers who benefit by adulteration of fuels to increase their profit margin.


Dr. Vis


Viswa Lab

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