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BUNKER INDEX :: Price Index, News and Directory Information for the Marine Fuel Industry
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A review of VPS bunker alerts

03 Oct 2017 09:33 GMT

By Steve Bee, Group Commercial & Business Development Director.



By Steve Bee, Group Commercial & Business Development Director

Global marine fuel quality, continues to be a concern for the world's fleet. With this in mind, Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) has for many years, monitored fuel quality on a daily basis and when necessary, issue 'Bunker Alerts' exclusively to ship owners and managers who are using our testing programme. These bunker alerts inform our clients of specific ports where a short-term quality issue relating to a specific fuel grade and parameter has been identified through VPS testing. This in turn provides information to assist our clients as to whether or not to take the risk in bunkering such fuel in that specific port or region, at that particular time.

Back in July 2017, a review of the Bunker Alerts issued by VPS over the first six months of 2017 was published. As an update to that review, this latest article adds the data collated over Q3 2017.

Figures taken from the extensive VPS fuel database, show that over the past two years 15% of residual fuels tested exceed the standards specification for at least one test parameter. Whilst distillate fuels show 9% of all samples tested exceed their specification for at least one parameter. That means for vessels not testing their fuel they run the risk of one in every seven residual fuels giving a higher probability of problems and just over one in ten distillates doing likewise.

Its possible for such potentially problematic fuel to be delivered anywhere and anytime, therefore the proactive nature of the VPS Bunker Alerts hold great value to our clients in protecting their assets.

Reviewing the Bunker Alert status for the first nine months of 2017, VPS have issued 49 such alerts to our clients. These have highlighted short-term quality issues in 29 ports, covering 32 cases relating to residual fuel and 17 relating to distillates.

The most common problematic parameter for residual fuels is density, with 12 Bunker Alerts issued in the year to date. This is followed by 7 alerts for high cat fines and 5 for elevated sediment.

The cat fine alerts, highlight the value or need to employ a fuel system monitoring programme in order to check purifier performance, putting increased focus on the efficiency of a vessel's purifiers to remove catfines. Such a programme can assist in reducing engine wear and increasing the time between overhauls, leading to increased costs savings and reduced downtime.

The most common problematic parameters for distillates are flash point and the cold flow properties of cloud point and pour point. Nine alerts have been issued year to date for flash point of distillates, four in the Americas and five in Europe. This continues a trend seen in 2016, which indicates the continuing use of low-flash blending components, with the probable aim to achieve lower-sulphur containing distillate products. The six cold flow properties alerts have all been for European ports, with four alerts for cloud point coming in Q3 2017. As we approach the colder winter months of the northern hemisphere, the cold flow properties of distillates should be a key area of focus for vessels sailing in such waters.

From a regional perspective, of the ports requiring a Bunker Alert release over the first nine months of 2017, 17 were in the Americas, 22 were in Europe, 6 Middle East and 4 Asia. Statistics have shown a significant increase in the number of Bunker Alerts for European ports in Q3 2017, with 10 alerts issued in the quarter compared to 12 over the first six months of 2017. Six of those Q3 alerts were for distillate fuels.

As stated earlier VPS has issued 49 Bunker Alerts over the first nine months of 2017. This is a higher number than the 40 issued throughout the whole of 2016 and 33 alerts issued in 2015. This, of course, is a strong indicator that fuel quality continues to be of concern and an area which should be monitored, ideally pre-burn in order to provide a higher level of damage prevention to the world's fleet, crew and environment.

VPS also offers additional tests beyond the standard ISO8217 scope that can help ship owners and managers remove even more risk from their operations. Contact your local VPS office or http://www.v-p-s.com/contact-us/ to explore what more can be done to manage your risks.

Image: VPS laboratory employee. Image credit: VPS.


VPS laboratory employee. Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS)




Related Links:

The VPS quality approach to sulphur testing: Dr Sunil Kumar
VPS director highlights need for MFM fuel delivery monitoring
VPS releases revised code of practice for bunker quantity surveying
VPS launches 'Quick Screening' service for MFM bunker deliveries in Singapore
SGS, VPS top Singapore bunker surveyor list

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