After over six months of low sulphur fuel operations, Chevron Marine Lubricants has published Taking the Temperature of the 2020 fuel sulphur switch, a whitepaper detailing the company’s experience of working with new fuels and lubricants
The whitepaper discusses findings based on Chevron’s work with ship operators worldwide to manage the transition from traditional high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) to very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) – the most widely used means of complying with IMO’s 2020 regulation.
The paper also explores what these experiences mean for shipping as it prepares for even greater changes in the future, as long-term decarbonisation targets are set to influence fuel choices.
Chevron brand, marketing and business development manager Ian Thurloway said Chevron’s observations show that most operators have managed the transition “very well” adding, “Fuel quality has been less variable than expected and accurate recommendations on cylinder lubrication helped prevent the worst fears from being realised. But there have been engine condition concerns and rigorous monitoring remains a fundamental of any fuel change – particularly faced with a whole new range of clean fuels to choose from.”
The whitepaper findings note that in general VLSFO has a higher energy content than HSFO, and offers good value for users. But VLSFO’s rapid ignition has caused problems for some older engines which has led some experts to call on increased levels of due diligence in fuel buying on the part of owners and operators.
Shipowners and operators have been encouraged to engage with experts for advice on implementing new fuel supply systems – or upgrading existing ones – and gain a fundamental understanding of the specifications and quality of the fuel oil that they are purchasing.
The practice of flushing high sulphur residues from tanks ahead of the regulation’s entry into force also contributed to an increase in cylinder condition challenges early in the year.
Low sulphur content in marine fuel also reduces the safety margin between normal piston running, with a limited but manageable level of corrosion, and damaging abrasive or adhesive wear. To detect these conditions before they lead to irreversible engine damage, Chevron recommends that operators employ a robust onboard drip oil monitoring programme, supported by frequent onshore laboratory analysis.
Taking the Temperature of the 2020 fuel sulphur switch can be downloaded here.