Tainted Bunker Fuel Uncovered in Southeast Asia

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By MarEx 2017-10-19 19:26:44

In the last two weeks, the presence of organic chlorides has been identified in four cases of fuels bunkered in South East Asia. The organic chlorides were present at levels of 23 ppm to 56 ppm. The specific chemicals found were 1‐1‐2 Trichloroethylene, Tetrachloroethylene, 1‐2 Dichloroethylene, Chlorobenzene and Chloroform.

Organic chlorides are used as cleaning agents by the dry-cleaning industry and other chemical cleaning such as air cooler cleaning. 

“Organic chlorides have been known to cause serious problems to marine machinery even at very low levels, as low as 5ppm,” stated Dr. Vis, CEO of fuel management company Viswa Group. “In one instance, Viswa Lab detected 56 ppm of organic chlorides, and the entire onboard machinery including fuel pumps and cylinders suffered serious damage requiring expensive replacement.” 

The industry recognizes the harmful effect of the presence of organic chlorides. Refineries such as Valero and Tesoro do not accept crude oils containing more than 5ppm of organic chlorides. This has long been the rule for most refineries. Capline system (operated by Shell Pipeline Company), which transport millions of tons of petroleum products through its pipelines, has also specified a limit of 5ppm for organic chlorides.

Organic chlorides are not substances expected to be present in bunker fuel and therefore, the fuel can be declared out of spec for ISO 8217.