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Tanker Shipping & Trade

Managing risk with pre-bunker testing and analysis

Wed 22 May 2019 by Craig Jallal, tankers and markets editor

Managing risk with pre-bunker testing and analysis
Singapore: pre-bunker testing package available (credit: Craig Jallal)

In the run up to IMO 2020 and the use of compliant fuels, operators will be looking of ways to manage off-spec bunker risks by testing fuel before loading.

Singapore-based shipping services company Royal Marine Services Pte has been offering a pre-bunker testing and analysis service since early 2019.

The company arranges for its surveyors to board bunker barges and take samples of fuel from the bottom, middle and top of the tank in the barge, before the fuel is presented to the ship.

Two levels of service are on offer, a 24-hour fuel test and analysis and a 12-hour test and analysis.

Royal Marine Services has partnered with a local testing company.

“In one month, approximately 25% to 30% tested samples had contaminats,” said Royal Marine Services’ head of operations and client relations, Natasha Haris.

The pre-bunker tests are the laboratory’s own internal tests designed to detect as quickly as possible potentially damaging contaminants and are not to the ISO post-bunkering testing standards, which can take several days to produce results.

This is not the first pre-bunker testing to be made available but is offered as a risk management tool for owners and operators to prevent the delivery of poor quality bunkers on board and the decision to load bunkers after the test remains with the operator.

Typical contaminants detected in pre-bunker testing include:

  • 4-Cumylphenol
  • Indene
  • 1,2-Dichloroethane (chlorine contaminants)
  • 2-Methyl styrene
  • 3-Methyl styrene

The first three contaminants were found in over 20% of fuel tested with 4-Cumylphenol having the potential to damage lubrication surfaces and Indene the potential to choke filters.

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