Due to new U.S. regulations, almost all ships exceeding 24 meters in length which are operating in U.S. coastal waters are confronted with much stricter environmental protection requirements. The Vessel General Permit (VGP), in effect since December 19, 2013, stipulates that rapidly biodegradable oils called Environmentally Acceptable Lubricants (EAL) must be used in interfaces where oil can contaminate seawater.
This affects many underwater components of a vessel, ranging from the stern tube seal to the mechanics in the variable pitch propeller, bow thruster, rudder stock, pod drive and stabilizers as well as dredging equipment.
The Cyprus-based lubricant specialist LUKOIL Marine Lubricants has therefore developed a completely new oil product line in cooperation with Fuchs Europe Schmierstoffe GmbH in Mannheim. The new lubricants comply with all EAL requirements, “while providing at least the same quality as the previously used mineral oils,” explained Stefan Claussen, Technical and Marketing Director at LUKOIL’s Hamburg office. This means that compromises with regard to service life or temperature resistance, which had been inevitable with biodegradable oils so far, are no longer necessary. “For our new product line we use selected saturated ester oils, which fulfil all requirements for both safe and environmentally friendly ship operation at the same time,” added Claussen.
These lubricating and hydraulic oils show better seal compatibility and considerably improved operating characteristics compared to the partially unsaturated ester oils that have been available on the market so far.
According to information from Claussen, LUKOIL Marine is the first to provide this new technology, which due to its high ageing resistance and good water tolerance should allow for vessel operation with the usual docking intervals of at least five years.