Concerns over quality of bunker fuel ahead of IMO2020

With the looming International Maritime Organization's (IMO) 2020 sulphur cap fast approaching, ship owners and operators have raised concerns over bunker fuel quality, pointing to sulphur blending stability and compatibility issues as the main concern.

According to an S&P Global Platts report, Douglas Raitt, consultancy manager at bunker fuel analysis firm Lloyd's Register, said the introduction of sulphur had drastically changed the way the shipping industry performrf its fuel blending process.

He said that in the 1990s marine fuel was “a straightforward product, blended to meet viscosity requirements”.

But these days it’s no longer about viscosity.

"It's about sulphur and when you start blending for sulphur, basically the viscosity and a whole host of other parameters become collateral damage.”

From January 1 ship owners who purchase fuel will need to fall in line with the IMO 2020 sulphur cap by limiting sulphur in oil to 0.5%.

However, according to Nijas Schemnad, technical sales manager at laboratories conglomerate, Eurofins, the operational risks associated with the blending of sulphur have caused many to question the upcoming regulations.

Schemnad said what scaredfuel users was that IMO 2020 could result in loss of propulsion and related risks.

He added that the compatibility of 0.5% sulphur bunker fuels still remained a challenge, with many ship owners expected to start acquiring low sulphur marine oil next year.

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