Major oil companies are testing 0.5% very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) formulations and lubrication strategies with shipowners in preparation for IMO’s global sulphur cap.
Shell Shipping & Maritime has carried out tests of Shell’s fuel on its 29,400-GT tanker Silver Carolyn in Singapore. The trial is one of 19 that Shell has conducted with shipowners at key ports. The company plans further tests in New Orleans, Rotterdam, and Singapore and is inviting owners to participate.
The company reported that with correct preparation fuels performed well in the engine, crews were comfortable using them and switching between grades did not result in any extra workload for the engine crew.
“The partnership gives crews and engineers important experience with the fuels and we are able to develop our operational handling guidelines,” said Shell global sales and marketing manager for marine fuels Melissa Williams.
Shell recently announced the launch of a cylinder oil specifically for use with engines running on VLSFO. Shell’s base number (BN) 40 oil Alexia 40 will be available in Singapore from 1 June 2019 and other main supply ports from 1 July 2019.
Castrol revealed the results of cylinder lubrication trials using a VLSFO formulation from BP at Riviera Maritime Media’s Sulphur Cap 2020 Conference in Amsterdam earlier this month. Castrol’s former global marine and energy marketing manager Richard Rowntree presented feedback from four trials spanning vessels aged from four to 15 years across several types and with three main engine manufacturers.
Castrol is advising that ship operators use its BN 40 product Cyltech 40SX with VLSFO fuel, possibly with the BN 70 oil Cyltech 70 during the transition, depending on engine manufacturers’ guidelines. Mr Rowntree reported that the ship engines tested with Cyltech 40SX were shown to be consistently clean when supplied at OEMs’ minimum feed rates.
Meanwhile Total Lubmarine has clarified its position regarding cylinder lubricant use with VLSFO. In a statement provided to Marine Propulsion, the company said that it would be advocating the use of the BN57 oil Talusia Universal during the transition phase “and beyond if necessary”.
“Total recommends that this is combined with one of its drain oil analysis programmes. This provides a safe opportunity to get a statement of the engine behaviour and to define the most effective cylinder lubricant feed rate.”
The company said that after the transition it would work with customers to decide if it was safe to switch to its BN 40 product. Should test results reveal higher levels of cleanliness (suggesting faster corrosion) or potential for a reduced feed rate, Total will give customers the option to remain with Talusia Universal.