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BP Calls For New Controls on Bunker Fuels

Marine fuel standards need to be reassessed to avoid a significant mismatch between the quality described by the fuel specifications that are demanded by the industry, claims BP Marine.

BP Marine is calling for firmer controls on the practice of adding used lubricating oil to marine fuel oil. It is apparent that there are still ongoing concerns and suspicions about the effects of used lubricants at low levels even though these concerns are not yet documented or substantiated. After the Kalamos legal case in the U.S., the question of acceptability of ULO (used lubricating oil) has become even more confused. Some interpreting the judgment as implying that ULO at levels up to 5 percent is a technically acceptable lift which does not interfere with the stipulations of ISO 8217. In response, an increasing number of users are buying fuels against "no ULO" clauses, even though this can be difficult to manage in a global industry. BP Marine is therefore calling for an industry-wide agreement on the practice. "We believe that the only option to improve the clarity of the situation is to insert a specific limit for the ULO fingerprint elements into the specification tables in the ISO-8217. The intention would be to limit the ULO inclusion to low-level where there is wide agreement that no problems will be encountered while avoiding needles concerns when very low-levels of some fingerprint elements are detected," said Dr. John Liddy, BP Marine's technical manager.

One practical problem with restricting ULO within the present ISO and CIMAC guidelines arises from ULO's varying compositions and potential confusion with trace elements in crude oil. It has become very difficult for fuel buyers to manage this issue effectively and there is a real risk that fuel suppliers and users will inadvertently be driven towards making unrealistic standards and expectations. "Even when marine engine design is more tolerant of "poorer" quality fuel, there are nevertheless, limitations that must be recognized and respected," says Dr. Liddy. "Our challenge to our own industry is to protect fuel buyers against the introduction of unwanted contaminants or unacceptable quality standards and we firmly believe that the industry needs to move forward collectively on this issue."

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