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Best Practice Storage and Handling for ECA Fuels

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By MarEx 2016-11-16 15:21:20

As seen from the recent IMO decision on the 2020 global sulphur cap, environmental regulation continues to have a transformational impact on the marine industry. With this in mind, ExxonMobil has launched its new ‘ExxonMobil Insights’ video series in order to help operators understand and manage the challenges created by changing regulations.

The latest video from this series discusses the measures that should be taken for safely bunkering and using both heavy fuel oils and low-sulphur ECA category fuels.

Fuel storage and handling

New, low sulphur fuels reflect the demands of today’s industry, but they also present some operational challenges for users and suppliers.

Under MARPOL Annex VI, ships must be able to switch to a low sulphur fuel prior to entering an Emission Control Area.

Many modern ships will have separate fuel storage for higher and lower sulphur fuels, which greatly simplifies the switching process and reduces risk.

But storage and handling issues can arise before the fuel is even on board a vessel. Cross contamination of fuels during bunkering is a major issue and one that the industry works hard to prevent.

For any ship receiving fuel oil, appropriate levels of segregation must be followed, from storage, handling and treatment through to final combustion in the engine. Comingling different fuel types can lead to serious operational problems such as leaks and blockages and at worst, loss of propulsion.

However, there are situations where comingling of different fuel types is unavoidable.

A way to ensure there are fewer issues is to test the fuels to be mixed in a laboratory or through on-board testing. This helps the crew to understand the measures to be taken and helps reduce operational problems during fuel switching.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.