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Ship engines disabled by tainted fuel from Singapore – Veritas

A major bunker fuel contamination has affected at least 14 ships that received high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) from Singapore, fuel and oil testing firm Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) said.

It said an increasing number of ships were getting affected by the tainted bunker fuel after 34 vessels were identified to have received HSFO deliveries from two unnamed Singapore suppliers over the last two months that were contaminated with up to 2,000 parts per million (ppm) of chlorinated hydrocarbons.

“The impact has been failure of the fuel system to the auxiliary engine resulting in loss of power and propulsion creating a blackout,” VPS said in a document seen by Reuters.

Such incidents could affect bunker fuel demand at Singapore, the world’s largest marine refueling, or bunkering, hub.

VPS and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

VPS said the delivered HSFO actually met the ISO 8217 specifications upon each delivery, but a deeper screening method identified the fuel contaminants.

The fuel contamination would likely have significant impact upon ship operators, in terms of costly damages and repairs, voyage delays and time-consuming claims, VPS added.

Norwegian headquartered ship insurer Skuld said on Friday that over the past two weeks it had seen an increased number of claims related to high sulphur fuel oil loads at Singapore, which were found to be contaminated with chlorinated compounds.

“We are seeing damage to fuel injection pumps, injectors, and filter elements and some have an issue with purifier systems,” Skuld said in an advisory note.

“Organic chlorides are not naturally present in crude sources and their presence in marine fuels is a cause of concern,” it said.

One ship owner in Asia, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the issue was going to hit vessels fitted with scrubbers using HSFO bunkering in Singapore. Scrubbers are devices used to reduce sulphur emissions.

Users of low-sulphur fuel oil are unaffected, he said.

“Using contaminated HSFO as a bunker fuel, a ship might have to end up at a nearby port to make arrangements, which would basically delay the voyage by a few days,” a Singapore-based shipbroker said separately.

A wave of contaminated bunker fuel problems hit the world in 2018 where it first emerged around the U.S. Gulf Coast before spreading to other marine hubs including Singapore.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Koustav Samanta and Florence Tan in Singapore, Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by Louise Heavens and David Clarke)

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