As the 2020 sulphur cap entered into force, the shipping industry saw the introduction of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oils (VLSFOs), which has been increasing since October 2019. However, VPS notes that a rise has been observed in fuel instability leading to sediment formation from these fuels.
Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) issues Bunker Alerts whenever fuel quality matters arise in a specific port, or region, over a short time period. As it informs, between 24th December 2019 and 21st January 2020, it has issued seven Bunker Alerts regarding sediment issues within VLSFO fuels.
These alerts show that sediment problems within VLSFOs take place not to a single port, or region, over this recent four week period, as they have been issued in relation to fuel supplied in:
- San Vincente.
I’ve never known such a concentrated frequency of bunker alerts to be issued in relation to a single fuel quality problem as we have seen with sediment problems in VLSFOs over the past four weeks
commented Steve Bee, Group Commercial & Business Development Director for VPS.
Singapore had faced similar incidents in 2018. Namely, six samples of ship fuel in Singapore had caused severe sludging at centrifuges, clogged pipelines, and overwhelmed fuel filters. The first problem sample in Asia was found on April 13 in Port Kelang in Malaysia, which led to a dead ship that had to be towed back to port with all fuel pumps damaged.
What is more, contaminated bunkers were also observed in the US Gulf in 2018, which resulted in a significant number of vessels experiencing system clogging and, in more extreme cases, engine damage.