Marine Fuels - Quality
Fuel accounts for over 40% of a ships OPEX. With the advent of IMO 2020, there has been a shift in fuels to cater to the 0.5% sulphur cap. The newer fuels, VLSFO (very low sulphur fuel oil), are essentially blends which comply with the ISO8217 standard for fuel quality. These new blends come with challenges, which include:
1. Limited shelf life of fuel
2. Incompatibility between blends
3. High probability of sludge formation
Consequences of poor fuel quality
Environmental pollution is a serious issue. With ships burning between 30- 150 metric tonnes of fuel each day, it is imperative to use good quality fuel. Poor quality fuel leads to toxic gas emissions which are now highly regulated and monitored. The fines for such incidents can go be very expensive in the range from SGD 10 K to SGD 400 K.
Engine damage due to poor quality of fuel is very profound. The damages are generally seen to occur on engine lines, purifiers, and fueling systems. These damages can not only be expensive ( > US 650K ), but also jeopardise the safety of the crew and vessel itself. Several cases of vessel damages due to engine stalling have been reported.
When poor quality of fuel is flagged, due to a high amount of a certain contaminant, that fuel has to be de-bunkered. This is a very costly affair to the supplier, which can range between SGD 1-2 million, depending upon the amount of fuel transferred and also on the equipment & time taken for the operation.
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