Environmental Technology, News, Oil & Gas

New statistical product from DNV

DNV Petroleum Services (DNVPS) today unveils the maritime industry´s most comprehensive data service on marine distillate quality delivered to commercial vessels globally.

Now available online, the DNVPS Marine Distillate Quality Statistics provides fuel buyers with a variety of search options, ranging from supplier-specific data to wider quality trends and patterns in worldwide bunkering locations. It is presented in the same format as the DNVPS Residual Fuel Oil Statistics, a well-established product used by ship operators to track and benchmark heavy fuel quality.

Ship operators subscribing to the Marine Distillate Quality Statistics can monitor the performance of fuel suppliers in fulfilling ordered qualities and quantities of distillate products, or gauge their vessels’ consumption efficiency of these fuels. They can then make informed procurement decisions and also better manage other operational aspects related to the onboard handling and use of marine distillates.

Updated quarterly, the Marine Distillate Quality Statistics draws on a database consisting of over 1.2 million tested fuel samples from DNVPS’ two-third market share in the global bunker testing business.

The new product comes at a time when shipping operations are increasingly driven by fuel regulations, such as the EU Directive 2005/33/EC, to use more marine distillates.

Since Jan 1, 2010, ships at berth in the EU Community Ports have had to consume fuels with no more than 0.1% sulphur content. This effectively means only marine gas oils may be used in the ports.

Additionally, the revised ISO 8217 marine fuel specification, to be introduced by July 1 this year, will contain new quality parameters and stricter limits for marine distillates.

“Compared to heavy residual fuels, marine distillates are ‘cleaner’ as they produce less sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter,” says DNVPS managing director Tore Morten Wetterhus. “But distillates are much higher-priced and therefore one of the most important considerations for buyers is to determine if their ships have received the right type, quality and quantity of distillate fuel.”

Mr Wetterhus warns that progressively stricter fuel regulations and rising demand for marine distillates are putting suppliers on constant pressure. He says the latest DNVPS distillate data point to quality issues concerning flashpoint, density, viscosity and sulphur.

Flashpoint off-specification, for instance, is a major onboard safety hazard which contravenes SOLAS regulations and could render a ship ‘out of class’ if it has received such a non-compliant fuel.

According to DNVPS statistics, about 2 percent of distillates tested by the company and supplied globally in the first quarter of 2010 did not meet flashpoint requirements. Over 70 percent of distillate deliveries from the major Antwerp-Rotterdam-Amsterdam (ARA) bunkering area were in fact very close to the specification limits for this parameter and had little margin for errors. If this trend continues, any minor quality glitch could lead to a massive flow of off-specification products into the market.

Globally, close to 20 percent of all distillate deliveries in the first quarter had over 10kg /m³ density differences between the values stated in bunker delivery notes and laboratory-tested values.

As marine fuels are bought by weight but delivered by volume, lower actual densities imply short-delivered quantities.

Compared to heavy fuel oils, density differences for marine distillates were higher and happening more frequently. Since distillates cost more, buyers in the first quarter of 2010 would have incurred bigger losses from the short-deliveries of these fuels.

“Ship operators intending to procure distillates in problematic areas can use our statistics to narrow down on individual suppliers who have good track records in delivering reliable products. Otherwise, the statistics are also a good reference for planning alternative bunkering stops,” Mr Wetterhus says.

As a leading marine fuel management company, DNVPS develops innovative solutions that help ship operators achieve measurable improvements to fuel savings, operational efficiency and environmental performance. The new Marine Distillate Quality Statistics is designed in the same vein.

“Shipping companies are still feeling the effects of the economic downturn and most continue to keep a close watch on fuel costs while adhering to stricter regulations. In this regard, the Marine Distillate Quality Statistics is a highly useful tool for ship operators to ensure that they are getting optimal value out of their distillate purchases,” Mr Wetterhus says.