FOBAS Detects Problem in HFO Port Said Bunkers

Friday, August 05, 2005
Lloyd’s Register FOBAS has identified four separate instances of heavy fuel oil (HFO) bunkers loaded onto ships in Port Said with high levels of Silicon and Aluminium (Si+Al) ranging from 184 mg/kg to 240 mg/kg between the periods of 21-26 July 2005. Such concentrations are far and above the ISO 8217 limit of 80 mg/kg for a heavy fuel oil.

The purification plant configuration of most ships will not normally be capable of reducing these high levels of Si+Al abrasives to acceptable engine inlet levels. This may therefore result in a carry over of excess levels of Si+Al into the engine inlet. Increased wear rates, even severe damage to the engine components – such as fuel pumps, injectors, cylinder liners and piston rings, can then be expected to occur as a result.

For the same four bunkers the Total Sediment Potential (TSP) was recorded at between 0.24%m/m and 0.39%m/m which exceed the ISO 8217 limit of 0.1%m/m. At these levels excessive sludge deposits may then accumulate at the separator plant and filters, causing further operational problems; the effectiveness of the purification plant to remove these abrasives from the fuel may be further reduced. Combustion profiles may also be adversely affected.

Marine fuel with the above quality characteristics should be deemed inappropriate for usage on board a ship for safe operation of the machinery plant.

In order to minimise the risk of Si+Al being carried over to the engine we recommend best practice in keeping bunkers segregated. Furthermore, it is also advisable to optimise the ship’s total purification plant as a standing procedure. When the quality of the fuel has been verified, further adjustments may then be made to the treatment process.

If your ship is planning to bunker fuel in the Port Said area, or indeed has recently done so, we recommend that suppliers are requested to confirm bunkers supplied are not contaminated in a similar manner and fully comply with the ISO 8217 marine fuel standard against your specified grade. It is also proposed that bunker samples and/or on board fuel system samples are sent for quality verification before any attempt is made to use the bunkers.

Please note that these findings are unusual for this port and it is hoped that this failure in the supply chain will be quickly resolved.

If you have any questions regarding this matter or you require assistance in verifying fuel quality, contact FOBAS at Tel: +44 (0)20 7423 1862/3-5; Email: fobas@lr.org; Web: www.lrfobas.com

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