576 - 4/08 - Contaminated Bunkers - Balboa, Panama

The Association has been informed that ships have been reporting main engine fuel pump seizures, and other engine problems, after taking on bunkers in Balboa, Panama.

One testing lab has reported eight complaints of fuel-related problems from ships loading bunkers at Balboa, since late February 2008.

The sampled fuel has been found to contain more than 100ppm of each styrene, DCPD, and Phenols. These substances represent refinery or chemical waste and should not be present in bunker fuels.

Members are encouraged to obtain assurance from their bunker suppliers that these substances are not present in bunker fuel, quoting para 5.1 of ISO 8217:2005 as follows:

  • The fuels shall be homogenous blends of hydrocarbons derived from petroleum refining. This shall not preclude the incorporation of small amounts of additives intended to improve some aspects of performance
  • The fuels shall be free from inorganic acids and from used lubricating oils
  • The fuel should not include any added substance or chemical waste which

a) Jeopardizes the safety of ships or adversely affects the performance of the machinery

b) Is harmful to personnel

c) Contributes overall to additional air pollution.

It is recommended that ships experiencing problems, and suspecting fuel oil already on board, have samples undergo GCMS analysis. It has also been recommended that the samples be tested for Total Acid Number (TAN), Strong Acid Number (SAN), and checking purifier performance with before and after samples. If a drop in engine power has been noted then it has also been recommended that the ignition and combustion properties of the fuel samples be tested as well.

The damages reported due to the contaminants identified include significant fuel pump problems, injector damage, filter problems, and loss of power.


Source of information: 

UK Club Loss Prevention Department

Tel: +44 20 7204 2217

Email: lossprevention.ukclub@thomasmiller.com

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