Slow Steaming Brings Fuels, Lubes into Spotlight

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

As shipping companies increasingly employ slow steaming to help reduce costs and control emissions, the process and challenge of procuring marine lubricants has taken on greater complexity and significance, according to Total Lubmarine.

The North American Emissions Control Area (ECA), effective from 2012, will impact 50% of maritime traffic, forcing ship owners and operators not typically operating in ECA’s to begin use of lower basicity cylinder lubricants required for lower sulfur fuels. This increasing trend is likely to pose challenges for ship owners and operators when leaving ECA’s, as lower base number (BN) lubricants are not best suited to operation with higher sulfur fuels permissible for use outside ECA boundaries.

Moreover, the use of lower basicity cylinder lubricants within ECA runs directly counter to the lubrication requirements for slow steaming or other conditions outside ECA’s, which conversely require owners and operators to run specific lubricants.

With rising bunker prices and growing charterer pressure to reduce costs, slow steaming looks set to stay. Most container vessels have cut cruising speeds from 22-25 knots to 18-20 knots, but in the case of extra slow steaming, to as low as 8-12 knots, which significantly increases stresses and strains on a two or four stroke marine engine.

“We know that ship operators are under pressure to deliver against current and impending Sulphur Oxide (SOx) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) regulations, reduce bunker fuel costs through slow steaming and meet safety standards to protect both their workforce and the environment,” said Patrick Havil, Global Marketing Manager, Total Lubmarine. “At the same time they need to maintain a clear competitive advantage through reliable, consistent operations and ensuring profitability.  Faced with this, the industry needs a new generation of marine lubricants that not only offer significant cost savings and better performance, but are also compatible with different levels of sulfur, and the great demand for slow steaming.”

Total Lubmarine has been addressing these issues for some time now and has developed the complete solution to this two-fold challenge. Talusia Universal has been tested more extensively than any other lubricant on the market today, against both high and low levels of sulphur heavy fuel oil (HFO), and has been validated by customers using distillates and slow steaming.

“We’re confident this product will effectively future-proof all vessels and is a significant step forward for the industry,” said Havil.  “Talusia Universal is the only lubricant compatible with fuel at all sulfur levels, meaning that the need to switch lubricants when moving in and out of an ECA is completely removed. Based on this, we are already developing the perfect lubricant for the 2015 market that will give optimal performance with the highest sulfur content HFO right down to lower sulfur content fuels.”

 

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