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Hellenic Shipping News interviews Mr. B.Stamatopoulos, Sales Manager of DNV Petroleum Services.

Thursday, 23 November 2006 | 00:00

DNVPS is specializing in marine fuel management, operating five, fully owned laboratories, specifically designed for marine fuel sample analysis.In his interview, Mr. Stamatopoulos comments on current issues and trends

regarding the bunkering industry stating that ?it is becoming increasingly apparent more Sox Emission Control Areas (Secas) are likely to follow and ship operators can most likely expect further curbs to the fuel sulphur content permitted in the Secas, which could go down to as low as 0.5% sulphur (or 2g SOx/Kwhr in terms of emissions). It appears to DNVPS that the only way the 0.5% fuel sulphur requirement can be met is with marine gas oil.
He further highlights the fact that as bunkers are typically the large contributor to the operational costs of a ship, the majority of Greek shipping companies doing quality testing are members in DNV Fuel Management Program. As for the future, it is apparent that with all the demands imposed on bunkers, one positive outcome is that the industry is likely to focus more attention on the development of marine fuel management knowledge and skills. This complex, yet under-rated, function will hopefully receive greater recognition and emerge as a professional expertise in its own right.
The full interview of Mr.Stamatopoulos reads as follows:

Which is DNV's position and market share in the global market?
A subsidiary of Det Norske Veritas, DNV Petroleum Services (DNVPS), is the foremost name in marine fuel management.
DNVPS is the only Organization in the world, which operates five, fully owned laboratories specifically designed for marine fuel sample analysis. The laboratories are strategically situated in Singapore, Rotterdam, Houston, Oslo and Fujairah. DNVPS is the global leader in bunker analysis worldwide. At DNV Petroleum Services, we understand your concerns about bunker quality.
Not only is the DNV Fuel Quality Testing Programme supported by the state of the art analytical equipment, we also have access to the wide-ranging resources available across the Det Norske Veritas worldwide facilities. A summary of specialized tests offered by DNVPS are as follows:
Β FT-IR Scan, used for characterizing and identifying organic molecules present in marine fuels.
Acid Number that is a measure of the total acidic constituents in a sample.
GC- MS Analysis to detect chemical contamination.
Particle Sizing using Scanning Electron Microscope in conjunction with Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis to check the size of particles present in marine fuels.
Fuel Ignition and Combustion Analysis.

How do you ensure the quality of the services you provide?
DNVPS Labs are accredited with ISO/IEC 17025. Moreover, DNVPS is accredited with ISO 9001:2000 for fuel quality testing, technical fuel advisory services and bunker quantity surveys.
In addition, DNVPS has annual internal quality reviews and also participates in several internal and external round-robin programs conducted by such bodies as ASTM and Shell. In order to ensure total correctness with our laboratory test results, if a particular result exceeds the required specification, taking into account test repeatability and reproducibility, DNVPS re-run the test to confirm the result.

During the last weeks, there is a broad discussion in the world shipping community, regarding fuel emissions caused by shipping and ways to address this issue by the maritime institutions and organizations, such as IMO, BIMCO, INTERTANKO etc. Which are the latest developments in that field and which Is DNV?s opinion on the matter, being a bunker fuel specialist?
From a ship operator?s point of view, the easiest solution is obviously to use a 1.5% sulphur fuel. The question then becomes one of availability and price.
Moreover, it is becoming increasingly apparent more Secas are likely to follow and ship operators can most likely expect further curbs to the fuel sulphur content permitted in the Secas, which could go down to as low as 0.5% sulphur (or 2g SOx/Kwhr in terms of emissions). While DNVPS cannot speak for the refining industry, it appears to us that the only way the 0.5% fuel sulphur requirement can be met is with marine gas oil.
We believe strict controls on fuel sulphur and SOx emissions are inevitable and do make environmental sense. Unfortunately, there are still no clear solutions.
According to Intertanko there are two ways to achieve lower shipping emissions: Shipboard technology (scrubbers), or cleaner fuels (distillates, not fuel oil). Intertanko will propose global marine fuel sulphur cap, starting with a 2010 introduction of a worldwide requirement for ships to burn only distillate fuels with 1% sulphur cap, falling to just 0.5% in 2015. According to Intertanko, switching HFO to distillates reduces not just sulphur oxides (SOx), but all types of emissions from ships, including particulate matter (PM) and even to some extent CO2. Other benefits include the elimination of the need for retrofitting of additional bunker storage tanks and piping on ships, elimination of current onboard fuel treatment plants, and switching to distillates would significantly reduce engine room waste production.
BIMCO, whose owner-members represent 65% of the world's merchant fleet and is accredited as an official observer at IMO, is not convinced that a proposal of only allowing one type of fuel in the future, i.e. distillates, was a feasible one.
In line with the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO said (SECAs) were a workable concept, and stressed that all SECAs should have the same sulphur cap so that the number of different fuels carried on board could be minimised.
BIMCO will advocate the use of distillate fuels with a 1% sulphur limit in SECAs, but it wants ships to be able to burn residual fuels with higher sulphur content on the high seas. Their overall aim is to protect the environment of ports and adjacent areas from ship generated air emissions without disrupting international trade.

Is there a way for shipowners to be prepared ahead of possible changes in fuel policy and quality guidelines due to be implemented?
Operation in Sox Emission Control Areas (SECAS) introduces new challenges to ship operators, both with respect to bunker management and voyage planning. Almost all ships will continue to operate on high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) outside the SECAs mainly due to the high price and low availability of low sulphur bunkers in many ports. These ships will therefore need to switch to low sulphur fuel (LSFO) before entering a SECA.
Changing over from high sulphur to low sulphur bunkers before the vessel enters a Seca is no easy task. For many ships equipped with simplified fuel systems, proper planning will be crucial to a timely and effective change-over. With all the demands imposed on bunkers, one positive outcome is that the industry is likely to focus more attention on the development of marine fuel management knowledge and skills. This complex, yet under-rated, function will hopefully receive greater recognition and emerge as a professional expertise in its own right.
Petroleum products of different origin may lead to instability in blended fuel and during mixing on board. Moreover, different blends of different types of fuel can lead to additional quality problems e.g. ignition and combustion problems, waste streams (polypropylene/polystyrene) as well as increased catalytic fines level.
Blended low-sulphur fuels are also likely to vary greatly in density and viscosity. And as more low sulphur products enter the market, the shipping community should be prepared for a few surprises. Already, we have heard of problems with fuel stability and cleanliness, and there are as well indications of poor ignition and combustion quality in some low- sulphur fuel products. On that note, ship operators must be aware that other critical fuel quality parameters may be adversely affected by components blended into the products to achieve the desired sulphur levels.
Special emphasis must be given in order for the TBN of cylinder oil to match sulphur content to maintain avoid deposits. DNVPS foresees that ship operators will not have an easy time juggling different fuel sulphur requirements and using bunkers blended with unknown components. Against this backdrop of unpredictable fuel quality, it is always prudent to have the fuel tested before use.

Which are the biggest perils that a shipowner faces in terms of choosing the appropriate bunker fuel provider to cover his company's fleet needs?
As the industry's pioneer in marine fuel analysis, we introduced the concept of testing bunker purchases in 1980, at a time when deteriorating bunker quality and escalating fuel prices were causing ship operators massive problems. Twenty five years on, bunker quality has not improved and is in fact showing signs of further decline.
Marine Fuels as an internationally traded commodity are largely transacted on the basis of price and availability. These products may originate thousands of miles from the supplying port and there is often no guarantee of the quality ship owners will eventually receive, even if the fuel has been ordered to ISO 8217 specifications.
Unpredictable fuel quality is a regular case for concern among ship operators. Apart from creating operational problems to vessels, ?off specification? bunkers can imply commercial losses in that ship has not received the quality of fuel as ordered. Ship operator may moreover face further costs if these fuels damage the engine components.
With the implementation of MARPOL Annex VI and EU Directive 2005/33, off specification fuels can also contravene international regulatory requirements leading to possible penalties such as vessel detentions and fines.
While some fuel buyers may argue that they have not encountered any fuel-related problems before, marine fuels are now an internationally traded commodity and it is becoming increasingly difficult to pinpoint the sources of quality problems.

What actions can a shipowner take in order to avoid possible problems in terms of bunker fuel supplying?
A ship operator may:
Use our fuel statistics and FuelWise offering fuel quality data supported by our global testing network. The DNVPS cumulative testing volume, which is in excess of 1 million fuel samples, continually, enhances our fuel quality database. We can help you plan your bunkering activities by providing accurate information on fuel quality characteristics and trends pertaining to specific bunkering destinations around the world.
Use our Bunker Quantity Surveyors to avoid costly disputes and to ensure representative sampling. DNVPS provides comprehensive and accurate documentation as evidence in potential legal claims.
Do not use the fuel before analysis results are known. DNVPS offers comprehensive technical advisory services on fuel quality and proper management of borderline and ?off specification? fuels. Our technical specialists also provide expert advice on fuel storage, storage tank heating, fuel treatment, fuel system checks, blend optimization and safe engine operation. Technical consulting for engine damage cases involving detailed investigations, or disputed cases requiring expert testimony in arbitration.

Which is your opinion regarding the way that Greek shipping companies handle their fuel needs?
As bunkers are typically the large contributor to the operational costs of a ship, the majority of Greek shipping companies doing quality testing are members in our DNV Fuel Management Program.
The DNV programme has become indispensable to major ship operators, helping them determine if their vessels have received the quality of bunkers paid for. More importantly, this service safeguards their vessels' engines from damage by poor quality bunkers.
Lately, DNVPS has introduced Total Fuel Management that is beyond bunker testing and quantity measurement. This concept encourages the shipping community to adopt a holistic and systematic approach in handling bunker-related issues. It encapsulates the three main stages in marine fuel management:
Pre-bunkering which involves planning, organizing and implementing fuel-related strategies and programs;
Fuel delivery where activities are carried out according to plan;
Β Post bunkering where activities are evaluated and corrective actions taken.
Target benefits of our Total Fuel Management benefits include:
Maximized fuel savings;
Reduction in maintenance and repair expenses;
Lengthening of the time before overhaul, which in turn shortens the vessels? off-hire period;
Ensuring the vessel?s schedule integrity.

Nikos Roussanoglou "“ Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide
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