GLOBAL SULPHUR CAP 2020. What high-sulphur concentration in fuel oil can show

In January 2020 Chinese Maritime Safety Administration caught two vessels violating IMO 2020 requirements concerning sulphur concentration in fuel oil. Such information was provided by VPO resource. Sulphur concentration on two vessels – 0,6777% – exceeded maximum permitted, which is 0,5%. Standard Club assumed that there were remainders of high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) in fuel injection system, which was reflected in the analysis.

The Third Engineer is responsible for bunkering and fuel storage on a vessel, though all the aspects of his work must be entirely controlled by the Chief Mate. It is his responsibility to make sure that a vessel meets all standards and requirements.

– After boarding a vessel, the first thing that any Chief Engineer must do, – is to check ROB (Remaining On Board), or in other words to sound fuel tanks, – Chief Engineer Ruslan Rotar, superintendant from Alpha Navigation Crew Management, says. – It is better to perform such an operation in the presence of a relieve officer and the Third Engineer responsible for fuel. Entries in engine room logbook should meet actual quantity of fuel. Then he checks BDN (Banker Delivery Note), with indication of qualities of fuel, including sulphur concentration, viscosity etc.

If there is more fuel in a tank than indicated in ROB, how it appeared there – is also unclear, it is necessary to inform a shipowner on time. In such situations written correspondence via e-mail is some kind of a warranty, which will insure a seafarer in case of litigation.

Fuel is not mixed, even when a ship is bunkered in the same port. Even if during bunkering BDN reflects the same figures, it is forbidden to do this. A tank should be used till the end.

– In case of discovery of high-sulphur concentration in fuel oil, as it is with the vessels in China, a shipowner is fined. As the world community reacts strongly against any violations of MARPOL, – Ruslan Rotar explains. – To ensure that the whole fuel system operates on low-sulphur fuel oil (LSFO), several fuel analyses are carried out: from tank, before separator and after, as well as with the main engine. On comparing the results, it is easy to find out what the reason for high-sulphur concentration in fuel oil really was.

From time to time shipowners send a note about the latest amendments in MARPOL, SOLAS and other conventions and standards to the crew, as the rules are regularly revised and updated. However, the seafarers should see to such updates themselves and be aware of the latest news in the shipping sphere.

According to BIMCO, at the beginning of 2019, LSFO accounted only for 8% from the total sales volume as opposed to 70% at the end of 2019.

HSFO used to occupy the first place on fuel sales list, however nowadays its sales volume makes up about 28%. This figure can be explained by bunkering vessels fitted with scrubbers. Moreover, most part of the world’s fleet fitted with scrubbers is represented by big vessels, consuming respectively more fuel – thus, it accounts for 28%.

BIMCO also stated that within IMO 2022 framework uniform rules and regulations were adopted for the shipping industry, though there are no single generally accepted requirements as to the characteristics of fuel mixtures. LSFO bunkering from a supplier in one port is not necessarily compatible with LSFO in the other port.