Douglas has more than 10 years of experience in marine fuels testing and engineering. After graduating in Chemical Engineering and Business Engineering, both at Rotterdam University, Douglas managed marine fuel oil testing laboratories in both Rotterdam as well as Singapore. In 2005 he joined Lloyd's Register, strengthening its Fuel Oil Bunkering Advisory Services, FOBAS. Douglas is an expert on problem fuels as well as solutions concerning marine fuels, providing consultancy on a daily basis to end users such as ship owners and managers.
Fuel Oil Bunker Analysis and Advisory Service (FOBAS) is a recognised leader in the evaluation of all grades of fuel oils used in marine, offshore and land-based industries. Use of the latest analytical techniques, together with a wealth of accumulated experience, ensures that FOBAS provides the independent and authoritative technical information essential to the efficient management of the highly variable quality fuels currently available.
As rising costs cast the spotlight on bunker fuel, blending practices have become more advanced and complex. Indeed, the process of blending plays a critical role in helping ship operators to receive fuel that is not only fit for purpose and safe to use, but also offers the best price per metric tonne of fuel in terms of energy content. Recently, a variety of factors have influenced the blending process and this has had an impact on the composition of fuel delivered to ships.
The product in bunker tanks on board of ships is the result of optimization between production costs and compliance with customer specifications. The main target blend specification for bunker fuel in the past was initially viscosity, reflected in product names such as IFO180, IFO 380 etc. As refining techniques became more and more sophisticated density also became a critical blend target. This often required blending heavy grades of residual product with more costly distillates and cutter stocks to enable the fuel to be used safely. In this sense, blending was primarily a means of producing fuel that was both economical (using the least amount of cutter stock to meet specification targets) and fit for purpose.
With the development of marine fuel standards such as ISO 8217, fuel blends also need to meet certain criteria that set out the parameters and general guidelines as to what constitutes acceptable fuel quality. At its core, blending needs to account for key qualities of fuel to be considered fit for purpose, stable with good ignition quality and combustibility. It is vital that all cutter-stocks used are compatible with the nature of the residual base stock in order to ensure the stability required of the overall blend is achieved.
In recent years, changing environmental regulations have played a big part in shifting blending priorities and this has had consequences throughout the supply chain. Where blending was previously meant to help ship operators balance costs with functionality, growing sulphur regulations have meant that the sulphur content of the fuel has become a critical parameter in the blending process.
Low sulphur fuels may have different qualities from high sulphur fuels and may create problems for some engines if the ignition properties of blended fuel are impacted due to an unusual density/viscosity relationship as defined by the CCAI in ISO 8217: 2010. Blending to produce low sulphur fuel can also result in fuels with poor stability characteristics and possibly higher cat fine content if slurry oils are used as cutter stock. This makes it especially important for suppliers and ship operators to test fuel that has been blended to meet sulphur requirements and to also ensure that the fuel meets international marine fuel oil standards.
Other trends such as bio-derived components becoming increasingly more popular in land based fuel applications over the years due to for example lower SOx and PM emissions, the likelihood that it could become present in the marine fuel supply chain may also increase. Fatty acid methyl ester,or FAME may pose adverse consequences when used in ship engines, the full effects of which are still being studied. ISO 8217:2010 does not allow the use of FAME, however it is difficult to avoid completely due to FAME being surface active, sticking to metal or glass surfaces. The risk of cross contamination where supply chain terminals, barges and trucks handle both marine fuel and bio-diesel are therefore real.
While it is important for ship operators to meet their fuel requirements while minimizing costs, it is vital that the blending processes in the marine fuel supply chain not be overlooked. The costs of improper blending are very real and can result in off-spec fuel which in turn may be difficult for onboard handling and/or damage ships' engines. Fuel quality is constantly changing to meet the shifting demands of regulatory and economic forces and the supply chain needs to evolve with these effectively.
Thank you for your valuable information, I have some tec questions
Please, send me an e-mail to
Thank you for information . I have a question for you
I want to produce IFO 180, and sell it is it feasable to use spent oil
or surplus Lube oils?
My cutting stock is refined crankcase oils (No H2o,benzene,dirts,etc)
Can I add Gas oil to my final product in order to have IFO 180?
If yes, what is the percentage of mixture? or
Can I added gas oil by 12 % to have IFO 180?
Looking forward to your answer.
the concern you've raised is bit vital stuff and thanks for flashing such awareness. However i do feel this may become serious & countable in case bio diesel production boosts up in coming years and make its availability. Anyway i dnt think any issues due to FAME in the Middle East as the biodiesel production here is still a nightmare.