Joint Industry Guidance Released on 2020 Low Sulfur Fuel

file photo courtesy of Diamantino Rosa
file photo courtesy of Diamantino Rosa

Published Aug 21, 2019 6:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

A group of shipping, refining, fuel supply and standards organizations have worked together to produce Joint Industry Guidance on the supply and use of 0.50 percent sulfur fuel.

The publication is designed to provide guidance for stakeholders across the marine fuels and shipping industries, from fuel blenders and suppliers to end users. It presents the specific safety and operational issues relating to the supply and use of max. 0.50 percent sulfur fuels, an overview of fuel quality principles, and the controls that should be put in place to ensure that safety issues are identified, prevented and/or mitigated. 

It also addresses issues such as fuel compatibility, fuel stability, fuel handling and storage and contains a comprehensive review of existing operational factors that can affect safety. 

Key messages in the guidance include:

•      Ensure fuel quality by ensuring that blend components are suitable for bunker fuel production, with particular attention being given to ensure that the final product is stable.
•      Fuel suppliers and purchasers should provide adequate information to the ship concerning the fuel as supplied to enable ship crew to identify and manage potential safety and operational issues associated with certain fuel properties and characteristics.
•      Fuel characteristics are expected to vary considerably between bunkers. The ship's crew will need to adopt a more proactive approach to fuel management. They will need to know the fuel characteristics as loaded and be able to respond to the requirements, especially in terms of on board temperature requirements and any commingling.
•      While compatibility between fuels from different supply sources can be a concern in today's environment, assessing compatibility of 0.50 percent sulfur fuels from different sources will be key. To the extent possible, fuel should be loaded into an empty tank. The available space for new bunkers to be loaded should be taken as the capacity of the empty tanks in order to avoid commingling on loading.
•      Ship operators and fuel suppliers should review operational practices to allow sufficient time to test for compatibility between existing and proposed bunker fuel delivery, especially if no "empty" dedicated storage tank is available on the ship.

The organizations involved in preparing the guidance include: African Refiners Association, Concawe, Environmental Science for European Refining, Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (ImarEST), International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA), International Council on Combustion Engines (CIMAC), International Group of P&I Clubs, IPIECA (The global oil and gas association for advancing environmental and social performance), ISO/TC 28/SC 4/WG 6, Japan Petroleum Energy Center (JPEC), Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) and the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA).

The publication will be supported by an e-learning course to be released in October 2019.

The guidance does not address issues related to compliance with Flag State, Port State or IMO rules or guidelines, or alternative means of compliance (e.g. scrubbers), and does not include a discussion of alternative fuels such as LNG, hydrogen or methanol.

The guidance is available from the participating organizations, for example here.