Designing Cylinder Oils for the Post-2020 Fuel Market

Shell Technology Center (Shell)

By The Maritime Executive 09-03-2018 10:28:26

Marine lubricants that work well with IMO 2020-compliant, low-sulfur fuel must be based on performance data and engine testing, according to the new general manager of Shell Marine, Joris Van Brussel. Based in Singapore, Joris has gained experience across Shell’s fuels, lubricants and renewables businesses worldwide, with roles in licensing, branding and retail activities.

Joris and his team of experts recently met with MarEx editor-in-chief Tony Munoz at the Shell Technology Center in Hamburg to demonstrate the progress being made to meet low sulfur compliance for commercial vessels.

“Recent months have seen some movement by mainstream shipowners towards exhaust gas scrubbing to meet the 2020 marine fuel sulfur cap,” said Joris. “These customers will continue using high sulfur heavy fuel oils with two stroke engines, and demand lubes that are proven to protect cylinders against cold corrosion under extreme stress, such as Shell Alexia S6 or the higher BN Shell Alexia 140."

Joris expects that in 2020, a significant part of the market will shift to fuels with less than 0.5 percent sulfur, which will work best with cylinder oil formulations with a lower BN number. This will likely mean that significant volumes of higher BN cylinder oils will be replaced by BN40 or BN70 grades. In addition, sulfur-free LNG is also securing a position as a marine fuel requiring widespread distribution.

Shell uses test engines installed at its Marine & Power Innovation Centre (MPIC) in Hamburg, putting formulations through their paces in extreme conditions before field trials and OEM validation tests. The latest work at MPIC is focusing on the final tests of a new 40BN cylinder oil for two stroke engines that is already undergoing field trials and is expected to be available in the market in the early part of 2019.
“Today, the work we do at MPIC has to be part of that multi-faceted strategy for customers that has developed into MILES, where we address the most pressing operational concerns customers have,” continues Joris. Shell’s Marine Integrated Lubrication and Expert Solutions (MILES) program aims to help by combining purchasing options and services. This approach to lubricants management can help to improve reliability, efficiency and profitability.

Earlier this year, maritime contractor Van Oord signed a five-year agreement with Shell Marine covering the lubrication needs for its entire fleet of vessels, based on the MILES program. The agreement included arrangements to take advantage of Shell Marine’s LubeMonitor 4T programme to help manage oil consumption.

“Our tests and customer feedback show that reductions in feed rates can be achieved with an overall cost reduction to customers. In another case, a customer had seen the use of our Shell LubeMonitor was able to cut their cylinder oil costs by 25 percent while still complying with the engine maker’s recommendations," Joris said.  -MarEx