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BUNKER INDEX :: Price Index, News and Directory Information for the Marine Fuel Industry
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Draft ISO standard 'lends further protection to the bunker supplier'

New quality standard for marine fuels would increase the likelihood of breakdowns for ship owners, says Parker Kittiwake.

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Updated on 08 Apr 2016 09:12 GMT

Parker Kittiwake, a manufacturer of condition monitoring technologies, has voiced its concerns regarding the proposed amendments to the ISO 8217 quality standard for marine fuels, stating that the changes could have a significant impact on fuel quality and vessel performance.

The company says that, should the changes take effect, the new standard would result in a higher tolerance level for the concentration of harmful and abrasive particles such as cat fines, leading to a significantly higher likelihood of failures and breakdowns.

"The new draft also lends further protection to the bunker supplier from claims regarding the quality of the fuel supplied, whilst ship owners and operators are opened up to more risk," Parker Kittiwake said in a statement.

"Earlier this year, the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) released the draft ISO 8217:2016 fuel quality standard, requesting feedback from the industry ahead of a deciding vote between participating national standard bodies next month. The proposed amends to paragraphs five and six in particular have the potential to significantly impact bunker quality and increase the likelihood of impaired propulsion resulting from contaminants such as cat fines in the fuel. Additionally, this will further increase the time and resource required to carry out effective fuel management processes to prevent damage," the technology provider added.

Larry Rumbol, Marine Condition Monitoring Market Development Manager, Parker Kittiwake remarked: "We would caution that some of the proposed amends to the ISO 8217 fuel quality standard would be unfavourable to ship owners and operators, most significantly as they would offer far less protection to the fuel buyer against damage caused by lower quality fuel oil. For example, as recently stated by leading expert Dr Ram Vis, the new draft would allow the fuel supplier to deliver a bunker that couldn't be considered out of specification unless it exceeded the specified cat fines limit value by more than the 95% confidence level. This would prove perilous for vital components such as cylinder liners as it would permit the concentration level to rise from the current maximum of 60ppm to 72ppm, despite explicit recommendations from OEMs such as MAN and Wärtsilä that only fuel with a concentration of no more than 15 ppm should be used."

Explaining how a failure to reduce the level of cat fines would lead to more repair expenses for ship owners, Parker Kittiwake said: "As more distillates are being taken from crude oil during the refinery process, a higher concentration of cat fines is being carried over into the fuel. When they are not reduced or removed by suitable treatment, their abrasiveness will damage the engine – particularly fuel pumps, injectors, piston rings and cylinder liners - leading to costly repairs, unplanned downtime and possible consequential damage, both mechanical and commercial."

Rumbol concluded: "Damage caused by the ingress of cat fines can incur significant expense, with the cost of replacing a single liner estimated at $65,000 for parts alone. This can rapidly escalate to more than $1million when the parts, labour and the accompanying expenses of downtime, repair and off hire are also considered, as well as the likely event that multiple cylinders are affected. Cat fines are already presenting a significant headache for ship owners and operators, and the proposed changes to ISO 8217 will only amplify this. Only last month a well-known container operator incurred major engine damage from cat fines, having recently loaded bunkers in Rotterdam."

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