1.2% of low sulphur oil exceeds limits – Maritec

Aug 10 2021

With 1.23 per cent of VLSFO used on vessels proven to have a sulphur level outside the regulatory limits, it raises the question, at what point does the whole vessel become non compliant, Maritec asks.

Singapore fuel test centre Maritec reports that 1.23 per cent of tests for the sulphur level in very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) show that sulphur is between 0.51 to 0.53 per cent.


This exceeds the mandatory allowable 0.50 per cent, under IMO 2020.


Although having one reading of fuel with sulphur of 0.53 per cent does not necessarily make the vessel uncompliant.


"IMO has adopted a 95 per cent confidence testing boundary,” says John Ren Di, VP business development with Maritec.


“However, this applies only to in-use and onboard samples, and not the sample taken at the manifold.” (The manifold is the bunker loading connection on the tanker).


“Given that there will be variability between test results, even from identical samples tested in the same lab, it raises the question: when does an individual test result indicate that the tested VLSFO fuel is compliant?


Ship operators need to fit sampling points to existing ships built before 01 April 2022 no later than the first IAPP renewal survey after 01 April 2023. For new ships they need to be designated on delivery.


Definitely, in-use and onboard samples cannot exceed the maximum limit of 0.53 per cent (by mole). If sulphur content is found to exceed 0.53 per cent, then the source of contamination must be detailed, and evidence provided indicating that all possible steps were taken to ensure compliance.


“It would be prudent for vessel staff to witness and document the sampling and sealing by Port State Control Inspectors,” said Mr Ren Di.


“Ideally, they should take representative samples of their own and countersealed by the sampling inspector for independent verification in case of dispute.”


Maritec recommends that, in addition to routine full analysis on new bunker samples, crew also take onboard and in-use samples.


Maritec provides the sulphur verification kit to all vessels in their testing programme. 


“There is always a possibility of loading non-compliant fuel onboard. Mitigating this risk begins with sourcing and purchasing compliant fuel oil and reducing the risk of poor-quality fuel oil being delivered to the vessel,” said Mr Ren Di.


“Knowing the appropriate limits at each stage of the process will help keep vessels compliant and operating in line with IMO’s objective to reduce air pollution and protect the environment.


In June 2020, Maritec was acquired by Centre Testing International Group (CTI Group).  Within a few months, the Marine Services Division of CTI Group was fully integrated with Maritec.


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