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Revised ISO 8217 specification means new habits for bunker suppliers and buyers alike

The recently revised ISO 8217 standard means that bunker fuels and in particular their quality, will become stricter and more environmentally friendly. Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide today publishes an exclusive interview with Mr. Bill

Stamatopoulos, Regional Manager of DNVPS (DNV Petroleum Services Rotterdam), who outlined the main changes and what these mean for bunker suppliers.

Could you highlight the main changes that the new marine fuel specification brings to the market?

IMO requested ISO to revise the ISO 8217 standard focusing on improving health, safety, efficient machinery operations and environmental protection. The revised standard addresses these issues, for example, by including new parameters such as H2S, acid number, lubricity, oxidation stability and sodium. Also, the limits of some parameters have been tightened in order to improve the overall quality of fuels supplied, as for example cat fines. May I highlight DNVPS’ active lobbying to improve ISO 8217 standard especially during draft stage. As an independent foundation, DNV is committed to promoting a safe and sustainable future. Ensuring that ISO 8217 is fairly representative of fuel buyers’ interests is an important motivation. That’s why in areas where ISO 8217 needs to improve further on, e.g. H2S and ignition/combustion quality measurement, DNVPS is involved in R&D with industry players like MPA, CIMAC and even ISO to develop more reliable measurement standards and limits.

Is it immediately applicable, or will there be a grace period to the implementation of the new rules?

ISO 8217:2010 is not a regulation, but a commercial standard. The specification legally exists as of 15 Jun 2010, but it will require 2 parties to officially refer to this specification in a transaction, as procurement or charter party. So, it is a voluntary standard, and it is up to the market to decide which edition is referred to in commercial contracts. The actual implementation depends on when the operators will start buying fuels according to this specification and whether the suppliers will make the quality readily available.

Are bunker suppliers ready to cater shipowner demands?

Fuel suppliers will have to ensure that their products comply with the stricter specification, which possibly means some adjustments to their production processes and/or crude optimization used as feedstock. Blended HFO products, for example, will have to follow a reduced maximum Al+Si limit of 60mg/kg (down from 80 mg/kg) for the higher viscosity grades and 40 mg/kg for the lower viscosity grades. If buyers, demand products conforming to ISO 8217:2010, the suppliers will probably make these products available. Note, most suppliers have been delivering ISO 8217:2010 already, at least for the parameters we have been testing. The ISO 8217:2010 limits were based on amongst others, DNVPS existing statistics, world wide.

How will supply issues be addressed?

With the introduction of new fuel grades (eg. RMG 180, the different RME 180 and DMZ) and the impending reduction of fuel sulphur limit in the Emission Control Areas (maximum 1.00% sulphur limit from 1 July 2010), some transitional issues on product availability can be expected. In the long term, product availability will be stabilized and driven by demand.
The revised specification, with its tighter limits and new quality parameters, is meant to improve the overall quality of bunker products. Again, fuel buyers should expect some transitional quality issues as suppliers adjust their product offerings in accordance with the revised fuel specification.
Regarding the impact on production, increased blending to meet demand and stricter specifications, brings technical and safety implications which may result in more quality challenges in LSFO and distillates ““ greater risks in chemical contamination,Β  rising Al+Si levels, low flash point, poor ignition and combustion and density irregularities.
According to our statistics, about 2% of distillates tested in first quarter of 2010, did not meet flashpoint requirements. Over 70% of distillate deliveries from the major Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam bunkering area were very close to the specification limits for this parameter and had little margin for errors.
Globally, close to 20% of all distillate deliveries in the same period had over 10kg/m3 density differences between values stated in bunker delivery notes and laboratory-tested values. As marine fuels are bought by weight but delivered by volume, lower actual densities imply short-delivered quantities. Compared to HFO, density differences for marine distillates were higher and more frequent. Since distillates cost more, buyers would have incurred bigger losses from the short-deliveries of these fuels.

How is DNVPS helping its customers to that extent?

Message to fuel buyers is that they must be more vigilant about fuel quality and quantity trends, test deliveries routinely and monitor supplier performance. Crew members must report onboard fuel performance and all parties must improve their capabilities in fuel management so as to get optimal value from every aspect of fuel-related operations and certainly training has a role to play.
As the leading marine fuel management company, DNVPS develops innovative solutions that help ship operators achieve measurable improvements to fuel savings, operational efficiency and environmental performance.
DNV Petroleum Services is the fuel management partner offering:

“ΆΒ Β Β  Fuel Quality Testing
“ΆΒ Β Β  Bunker Quantity Surveys
“ΆΒ Β Β  Technical Troubleshooting
“ΆΒ Β Β  Fuel Performance Consultancy
“ΆΒ Β Β  Litigation Support Service
“ΆΒ Β Β  Bunker Intelligence
“ΆΒ Β Β  DNVPS Training.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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