Mid Term report on ECA progress
Capt Peter Hall CEO of IBIA reported to the Platt’s 6th Annual European Bunker Fuel Conference held in Rotterdam last week
The change to the 0.1% sulphur threshold had gone very well, with fewer than expected problems encountered, this was a testimony to the hard work that had gone into working across a range of stakeholders from shipping associations, P and I clubs, suppliers and ship owners. There had been reports of leaking fuel pumps after extended use on distillates and reports from Pilots particularly in Canada and the US about lack of engine response on distillate fuel, these teething problems were being addressed by engine manufacturers adjusting settings.
Pricing had had an impact as the vast majority of compliance had been met by utilising distillates.
Currently the vast majority of vessels were operating on distillates to meet the ECA compliance, Capt Hall cited statistics provided by the fuel testing companies which had seen distillate testing increase from 20% to 40% of all fuels. In some specific locations the percentages were even higher. Also he further reported on significant increases in stems of distillates being taken from Gateway ports such as Falmouth and Gibraltar.
However, the picture could change as we near the 2020 decision by IMO and prices continue to climb, then we will start to see greater consideration being given to Scrubbers and Hybrid fuels/ultra-low sulphur fuel oil (ULSFO). Going forward a key challenge will be the consideration of sufficient segregated bunker storage and line integrity and fuel availability.
Distillate 0.1% was readily availability in the majority of areas although information received from some shipping associations identified that Caribbean as a particularly challenging area at times for these supplies.
As far as fuel quality was concerned the move to 0.1% sulphur fuels had also delivered an improvement in fuel quality again citing statistics from fuel testing companies.
Although some operators had experienced problems with distillates “waxing” during the first few months of the year. This was essentially a procurement issue whereby paraffin wax crystallised at low temperatures. A ship operator if operating in northern Europe needed to define his distillate stem as “winter diesel” to pay particular attention to the cloud point and cold filter plugging point so that the fuel was “fit for purpose” in low temperatures.
Hall also reported on the uptake of key Ports in regulating quality, quantity and transparency and also the latest developments at IMO on Fuel quality.
He stated it was disappointing that IMO had failed to align sulphur testing to the ISO standard and called on major suppliers and key flags to work together to resolve this ambiguity.
It was unfair to ship owners and charterers that they could purchase fuel and prove to meet commercial contracts on sulphur thresholds only for a Port state to test according to Marpol and the sample fail.
There was progress still to be made in this area.