Caution – Contaminated Fuel Causing Machinery Damage





Viswa Lab has received four complaints recently, of machinery problems while using heavy fuel bunkered in Suez between June 6 and June 13.  GCMS analysis on these samples indicated serious contamination from:

  1. Phenols at between 1,000 and 5,000 ppm,
  2. Styrene, Indene and DCPD each over 100 ppm,
  3. One of the samples also had FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Ester) content over 1,000 ppm and elemental analysis indicate Used Lube Oil contamination (Calcium over 30 ppm, Phosphorous over 15 ppm and Zinc over 15 ppm).

All four vessels reported problems with filter, purifier choking and also reported high exhaust temperatures.

The source of Phenols could be from the use of Shale Oil as cutter stock.  Styrene, Indene and DCPD are refinery waste products which should not be present in the bunker fuel at these high levels.  We have reported in the past that at these elevated levels, this combination of contaminants has high potential to cause problems experienced by the vessels.

Please be aware of this and take due precautions.  Please let the supplier know that you are aware of these problems when you bunker in the Suez area.

Kindly be reminded: Any fuel meeting to the specifications of ISO 8217:2005 limits/table does not mean it is suitable for use.  The other important factor which needs to be considered is that – Every fuel used onboard should comply with para 5.1.

According to para 5.1 of ISO 8217:2005 –

The fuels shall be homogeneous blends of hydrocarbons derived from petroleum refining. This shall not preclude the incorporation of small amounts of additives intended to improve some aspects of performance.

The fuels shall be free from inorganic acids and from used lubricating oils.  The fuel should not include any added substance or chemical waste which

  1. jeopardizes the safety of ships or adversely  affects the performance of the machinery
  2. is harmful to personnel
  3. contributes overall to additional air pollution

Please note these chemical contaminants are not normally seen in bunker fuels.  Therefore, this fuel is off-spec, according to para 5.1 of ISO 8217.  Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

Source: Viswa Lab


  1. You site that Phenol can be derived from shale oil. Clearly a hydrocarbon so how would that not be allowable? This can be very confusing for a vessel owner / Charter.

    I appreciate your feedback, thank you.


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