The tested TAN values were all significantly over the average for the port (0.17mgKOH/g), with some even surpassing the maximum 2.5 mgKOH/g specification limit as stipulated in ISO 8217:2017.

Past experience has shown that some of these components have been linked with severe operational problems, particularly around filters, fuel injection pumps and fuel injectors

Skuld said.

Last year, reports of a rise in fuel contamination cases increased the industry’s concerns over quality and safety of blended fuels, especially ahead the 2020 sulphur cap. From 1 January 2020, a spike in demand for new low sulphur blends will greatly increase the risk of contamination, argues Lars Robert Pedersen, Deputy Secretary General of BIMCO, calling for bunker states to take responsibility.

When the IMO’s 0.5% sulphur limit comes into force in 16 months, blending will increase significantly and suppliers will have to blend the traditional heavy fuel with a lot of lighter refined products - products which are often cheap and of rather poor quality - to reduce the level of sulphur.

The risk that the new low sulphur fuel is not of the quality that it should be, and that it will cause operational problems, is bound to increase with the new sulphur regulation. The low sulphur fuel products needed on 1 January 2020 are not developed yet. The suppliers do not know yet what they will look like or what blending components will go in there. That is a concern,

...says Lars Robert Pedersen.