Bunkers: A Guide to Quality and Quantity Claims
- Date: 11/12/2020
The quality of bunker fuel continues to be a source of concern to shipowners and charterers. Over the last 40 years or so, enhanced refining techniques have resulted in a decline in the quality of residual fuel. Unfortunately, some marine fuels have also been used as a dumping ground for waste chemicals and organic substances that have caused serious operating problems. Added to this the global switch to low sulphur fuel in 2020 has resulted in heavy blending and the use of inappropriate blend components which has brought a wave of new quality issues. Engine damage and resultant lost time caused by bunker quality problems continue to occur all too frequently.
Claims arising from these problems are typically complicated and often frustrated by inadequate evidence, including representative samples, storage and consumption documentation and fuel analysis reports. In some cases, the fuel quality appears to have met the relevant fuel specification but further extensive testing reveals the presence of unusual contaminants. Linking these to engine damage can prove difficult and it is sometimes necessary to undertake metallurgical examination of worn or damaged components to determine causation. Preservation of damaged parts has become as important as preserving representative fuel samples.
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