The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 0.5 per cent global sulphur fuel limit will come into force in 2020. Heavy fuel oil is already restricted in Emission Control Areas (ECAs), and new low-sulphur fuels are entering the market.
Marine insurers have for some years raised their concerns over the discrepancy that exists between the ISO fuel standard for cat fine content in fuel, and the content recommended and anticipated by manufacturers in engine design. Machinery damage is the most frequent claims cause in marine insurance, and cat fines is the most typical and well-known contaminant that can destroy an engine without effective filtration, purification and fuel management on board. Cat fines is a by-product of refining, and increases with low sulphur fuels that require more refining.
IUMI first raised this issue with the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) in 2011, and representatives of IUMI met with the IACS Machinery Panel in 2013 to present our concerns. Following this meeting a project team was established within IACS, and in July 2017 Recommendation 151 for petroleum fuel treatment systems for marine diesel engines was published.
The IACS Recommendation aims to improve the operational safety of the vessel, and addresses many of the concerns raised by IUMI. The requirements cover the complete fuel treatment system from bunker fuel connection through to the interface with the oil fuelled machinery; this includes fuel tanks, the fuel cleaning equipment and the fuel condition equipment.
A few classification societies already have requirements in place for the handling of fuel; DNV GL, RINA and the Indian Register of Shipping. However, a more unified comprehensive approach through the IACS recommendation is clearly needed. For Recommendation 151 to become effective, IUMI encourages implementation by all IACS members and will monitor its adoption.