ExxonMobil Issues Guidance for Switching to Low Sulphur Fuel


The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 0.5% sulphur cap is expected to be active from 1 January 2020. Ahead of this, Exxon has got some top tips to help the marine industry switch to low sulphur fuels and maintain vessel’s safety and reliable operation.

Prevention is better than cure

  • Buy fuel that meets the latest ISO 8217:2017 specification
  • Only bunker from reputable fuel suppliers
  • Clean out bunker tank residues when necessary

Test for cat fines

Some new 0.5% sulphur fuels might have elevated levels of cat fines, which if not properly treated, could trigger catastrophic engine damage. To prevent such incidents, just follow these steps,

  • Maintain storage tank temperatures at least 10°C above fuel pour point
  • Keep settling tanks at 85°C
  • Operate purifiers at optimum efficiency and minimum throughput
  • Drain water from fuel tanks to aid settling

Check for compatibility

There is a risk that two compliant fuels will not be compatible, which can trigger damaging sludge formation. It is therefore essential to:

  • Test the fuels for compatibility, ideally in a laboratory
  • Store fuels separately until testing has been carried out
  • If mixing is unavoidable, avoid mixing in excess of 80:20 mix ratio

Monitor for sludge

If sludge does start to form, it is essential to ensure against further fuel blending before any remedial action is taken as this may exacerbate the problem. Then:

  • Operate two or more separators in parallel at their lowest throughput
  • Increase the frequency of purifier discharge
  • Monitor and clean filters frequently

Additional check

Depending on its features, it may also be possible to use a next generation cylinder condition monitoring service to test marine fuel sulphur content, in order to confirm whether it meets the revised IMO sulphur cap. Using fuels that do not comply with the emissions regulations could result in costly penalties.

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Source: Exxonmobil