A range of very low sulphur fuel oils has been engineered to dispel shipowner concerns around the quality of fuel compliant with IMO’s 0.5% sulphur cap
A range of very low sulphur fuel oils (VLSFO) has been engineered to dispel shipowner concerns around the quality of fuel compliant with IMO’s 0.5% sulphur cap
ExxonMobil has focused on enhancing key fuel characteristics – including stability, combustion, solvency reserve and waxing - as well as subjecting the new formulations to stringent fitness-for-use tests.
The resulting EMF.5 range – the name stands for ‘engineered marine fuels’ - will be available initially in Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam, Zeebrugge, Marseille, Genoa and Singapore. As reported previously, the fuels will all be residual and will be broadly compatible across the range.
ExxonMobil marine fuels venture manager Luca Volta told Marine Propulsion that the company was backing the quality of the new formulations by branding them as ExxonMobil marine fuels.
“It’s about more than compliance, which is just the ticket to the game,” he said. “A brand is a promise. We decided to associate our name with these fuels so that they are easily recognised and identified in the sea of VLSFOs and so that customers know they are buying quality fuels.”
ExxonMobil’s testing identified some fuel formulations that met the fuel characteristic requirements of ISO 8217:2017 but not fitness for use. For example, while a fuel’s calculated carbon aromaticity index could meet the required specification for ISO 8217, there was not necessarily a positive correlation with other test results - including estimated cetane number and fuel ignition analysis - which indicate fitness for use. The company has engineered its fuels to meet both ISO specifications and fitness for use.
Regarding the composition of the blends, Mr Volta said the company had gone deep into its refineries looking for fuel streams compatible with the marine market. However he noted that no two refineries are the same and that enhancing compatibility across the range was an important part of the formulation.
Although the company does not disclose production volumes, recent upgrades at refineries in Antwerp, Rotterdam and Singapore have taken marine demand into account. Private discussions with customers over supply are at an advanced stage.
ExxonMobil has also added Zeebrugge to its initial list of ports at which EMF.5 fuels will be available. Ships there, notably the significant traffic in car carriers, will be served by estuary barges.
Mr Volta said that further locations could be added provided local refinery products meet the same fitness-for-use, ISO characteristics and compatibility criteria as the rest of the range.