Contaminated bunker fuel found in Singapore
Based on the data from a letter Maritec sent to its clients, six fuel samples of ship fuel sold in Singapore had “resulted in severe sludging at centrifuges, clogged pipelines, overwhelmed fuel filters.”
The samples indicate similarities to “Estonian type oil shale” and “U.S. type fracked shale oil”, Reuters reported citing the surveyor. The problem is that since Singapore is a major bunkering hub, these fuels are likely to spread across the ASEAN countries, impacting proper functioning of the ships in the region.
The report emerges a month after the U.S. Coast Guard issued a warning on bunker contamination in the U.S. Gulf Coast. The Coast Guard said the issue involved blended fuels oil such as intermediate fuel oil (IFO 380), causing fouled fuel pump plungers, fuel pump seizures and other fuel system related failures.
What is more, in some cases filters were completely clogged resulting in engine failures and propulsion loss.
Apparently the standard fuel oil test methods don’t detect these underlying problems as they are not intended to discover chemical compounds that cause these issues.
Vessel owners and managers are encouraged to ensure vessel operators are made aware of this potential hazardous condition, closely monitor fuel oil system components and consult their bunker suppliers and other technical service providers regarding this issue, as recommended by the USCG.
The bunker contamination cases are a cause for safety concerns especially in the light of the upcoming 2020 sulphur cap which is expected to result in the flooding of the market with new types of blended marine fuels. ■