VLSFO Fuels Identified With High Contamination Levels in Major Ports


As 1.1.2020 approaches, the supply of VLSFO fuels with 0.50% sulfur content has increased globally. ViswaLab, in its latest technical update reveals that it had identified VLSFO with high contamination levels in major ports. 

VLSFO quality

These VLSFO fuels are coming from paraffinic and aromatic sources. The quality of these VLSFO’s varies greatly with stability, catfines and cold flow properties being of significant concern. Unfortunately, a very high level of contaminants in some of these fuels are seen. 

Over the last few weeks, ViswaLab has identified 6 fuels, with high contamination levels:

  • 3 bunkered in Rotterdam, 
  • 2 in Antwerp and 
  • 1 in Singapore. 

The contaminants

These fuels had the below contaminants at the highest levels, upto a maximum of 

  • 4,900 ppm of Styrenes, 
  • 7,000 ppm of Indenes, 
  • 28,500 ppm of DCPD, 
  • 6,000 ppm of phenols and 
  • 2,800 ppm of 4‐Cumylphenol. 

Effects of these contaminants 

Presence of these contaminants at high levels has the potential to cause 

  • purifier sludging, 
  • filter choking, 
  • fuel pump jamming and 
  • problems with fuel injectors. 

Machinery problems

These contaminants should not be present in bunker fuel. At these high levels they are likely to cause machinery problems. For this reason, they will not meet the criteria of Para 5 of ISO 8217. 

Six “Undesirable Substances” 

In 2014, the Port Authority of Rotterdam had prepared a list of six “undesirable substances” that should be banned from bunker fuels traded or supplied in the port. 

How can we avoid contamination?

  • It is better to inform the supplier that these contaminants will be checked for.
  • Insist the supplier to provide with a Certificate Of Quality (COQ) which should include a GCMS analysis. 

It is disappointing that when the shipping industry is struggling to adjust to a new fuel, the old ghosts of contamination is adding to the problems. 

To assist with questions related to 2020 fuels Viswa has started an in‐house ‘Working Group’. You can reach us at wgfuels2020@theviswagroup.com 

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like your VLSFO’s tested. 

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Source: Viswa Group



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