Future Fuels: Pret-a-Porter?
14th August 2014 04:00 GMT

In the face of rising operational costs and the desire for cost-effective solutions that are compliant with environmental regulations in the foreseeable (and sometimes unforeseeable) future, ship owners and operators now find themselves in a rather interesting quandary where critical decisions pertaining to the success of their fleet in the future need to be made. These decisions more often than not revolve around more than just fuel choices alone. Shipowners have a variety of future fuel choices. Each fuel option comes with its own set of technological and economical questions that need to be thoroughly answered in order for one to arrive at a decision that makes the most commercial business sense in the long-term with minimal sacrifices to be made in the interim.

Though conventional fuels like low sulphur heavy fuel oil and marine gas oil currently continue to be the de facto choice of the industry’s majority, its sustainability as marine fuel of the future has come into question in light of an evolving tightening regulatory statutory emissions landscape that has made it essential for ship operators to utilise fuels that for the most part have been blended with environmental compliance within ECAs in mind, sometimes resulting in blends that show atypical characteristics like unusually high cat fine levels, decreased viscosity and potential harmful blend components.

Moving forward, in the short term marine gas oil will displace low sulphur residual fuel oil in ECAs come 2015, and many will applaud this change from an operational perspective as gas oil is, after all, a clean product. Buyers beware, though – although gas oil may be clean but with sulphur levels less than 0.10% m/m, you cannot necessarily sail plainly. Lubricity and flash point non-compliant related incidents may well be on the rise in ECAs after January 1, 2015.

In general, an increase in the use of distillates will most likely take place, at least over the next decade furthered by a global cap of 0.50% m/m in either 2020 or 2025. According to the study on Global Marine Fuel Trends that explores the future of the shipping industry in three main foreseeable situations up to 2030 which was jointly developed by Lloyd’s Register and University College London, heavy fuel oils will continue to dominate the marine fuels market between now and 2030 in all three scenarios presented, along with an increasing demand for distillates.

Methanol does not feature significantly in the forecast presented in spite of its potential as a compliant marine fuel that does not require cryogenic facilities on board the vessel. However, it was noted that the 2030 timeframe may have been too short or that it was not necessarily an appropriate solution for container vessels, bulk carriers, crude tankers or product tankers, which were the four primary vessel types upon which the study was conducted.

The concept of utilising liquefied natural gas on board sea-going vessels has been gaining in popularity due to its environmentally friendly qualities over the past few years, especially with the success it has seen on short-sea shipping routes, in particular. With recent developments indicative of a burgeoning LNG bunkering infrastructure supported by policy makers, major ports, class societies, shipbuilders, and floating storage providers on the horizon, it is evident that LNG will take off. While Lloyd’s Register foresees in its Global Marine Fuel Trends study that LNG will increase to comprise 11% of total marine fuel demand in 2030, it will remain to be seen if demand will continue its upward trend beyond that point.

While LNG is certainly shaping up as an increasingly viable option that has received a warm welcome due to its ready compliance with environmental regulations expected to be coming in force over the coming years, and perhaps at face value attractive pricing point, it would still be prudent to remember that the pieces on the board have only just begun to be moved. There simply does not exist a one size fits all solution that would work for ship owners and operators across the globe, especially considering the many variables involved that could alter the potential success of either option for any particular fleet to significant degrees.

Instead of focusing solely on what looks to be the most popular option out there, it might be that one needs to first look within and examine one’s own needs thoroughly before selecting an option that best suits one’s business.

Douglas Raitt,
14th August 2014 04:00 GMT

Comments on this Blog
Marc Seidner
20th November 2014
There are new products on the horizon which provide alternatives to current vessels operating with conventional heavy fuel oil. The overriding issues are cost and efficacy. Today even with the rapid drop in bunkers the alternative MGO is almost twice the price. Its a sacrifice to bend to .1% sulfur requirements. It does not have to be that way. We have viable alternatives to present to the market that are both cleaner and greener and work. We need to present them as soon as possible but because we come from agribusiness and forestry and our products are cellulosic, we need to engage guidance from you and FOBAS. We can cut operator costs dramatically and meet standards. I am marc@permanentecorp.com
Mark Minciullo
16th February 2015
Mark Minciullo
16th February 2015
We have an alternative to changing to new products....we have developed a treatment to turn existing heavy fuels into super diesel.MARINE FUELTreatment BFT-101
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sodium in fuel oil by inhibiting the formation of molten vanadium compound deposits and neutralising the formulation of sulphur trioxide.
BFT-101 Marine Fuel treatment promotes greater cleanliness in burner nozzles, fuel storage tanks, circulating lines, feed pumps, and strainer screens.

Prevents build-up of tank bottom sludge.Converts sludge already present to burnable fuel.Ensures cleaner tanks, lines, strainers, preheaters and burners.Provides more uniform flow of fuel oil to burner for best possible combustion.Inhibits corrosion in fuel system.Recovers tank capacity with no interruption of plant operations.Improves combustion efficiency and fuel efficiency.Reduces air pollution by minimising the discharge of unburned hydrocarbons.Minimises residue formation.Removes old, built-up residue formations.Lower stack temperature.Eliminates tube plugging in boilers.Prevents corrosion of metal surfaces when using fuels with high vanadium and sulphur content.Keeps equipment clean including nozzles, injectors, valves, pistons, tanks etc.
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8th October 2017
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25th October 2018
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