Issued in Jan 2022
Table of Contents
Issue of chemical contamination had plagued the bunkering industry for years, and the risk of receiving contaminated bunker fuels is likely to persist. The importance of buying from reputable suppliers with robust quality control procedures cannot be over empathised. However, the complexity of the bunker supplier chain as well as unregulated use of cutter stocks would mean that any quality control process, no matter how robust, is likely to only minimise and not fully eliminate risk of such contaminations. It is therefore important for bunker buyers and operators have their own control measures in place.
The test scope stated in table 1 & 2 of ISO 8217 is limited and insufficient to cover the requirement for detection of deleterious materials in marine bunker fuels. Marine fuel testing laboratories had successfully addressed the limitation of ASTM D7845, the only standard GCMS test method, and is able to apply it as an effective chemical screening tool to complement the table 1 & 2 test scope. As demonstrated in the case of Chlorinated Organic Compound (COC) contamination in 2022, most fuel laboratories had successfully identified COC, using ASTM D7845 test method, as the main contaminants causing the damages. Findings had been proven to be consistent across laboratories using the same method and was well accepted by the industry and port authorities.
Over the years, GC/MS analysis has proven to be a practical technique to employ for detection and quantification of deleterious materials, or chemical contaminants present in bunker fuels. This technique been widely used and accepted across the marine industry for marine fuel forensic testing. Chemical screening of bunker fuel is a critical element of successful onboard fuel management, and GC/MS analysis can be employed as a complement to the routine test scope, specifically to cover the detection and quantification of deleterious materials which otherwise cannot be detected by the table 1 and 2 parameters.