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August 5, 2005

Port Said fuel warning

LloydÕs Register FOBAS (fuel oil bunker analysis and advisory service) warns that it has identified four separate instances of heavy fuel oil (HFO) bunkers loaded onto ships in Port Said with high levels of Silicon and Aluminum (Si+Al) ranging from 184 mg/kg to 240 mg/kg.

The instances occurred in the July 21-26 2005 period.

The concentrations found are far above the ISO 8217 limit of 80 mg/kg for a heavy fuel oil.

The purification plant configuration of most ships will not normally be capable of reducing these high levels of Si+Al abrasives to acceptable engine inlet levels, says Lloyd's Register FOBAS. There may thus be a carry over of excess levels of Si+Al into the engine inlet. Increased wear rates, even severe damage to the engine components--such as fuel pumps, injectors, cylinder liners and piston rings--can be expected to occur.

Total Sediment Potential (TSP) for the same four bunkers was recorded at between 0.24% m/m and 0.39% m/m which exceed the ISO 8217 limit of 0.1% m/m.

At these levels excessive sludge deposits may then accumulate at the separator plant and filters, causing further operational problems. the effectiveness of the purification plant to remove these abrasives from the fuel may be further reduced and combustion may also be adversely affected.

Lloyd's Register FOBAS says that "marine fuel with the above quality characteristics should be deemed inappropriate for usage on board a ship for safe operation of the machinery plant."

"In order to minimize the risk of Si+Al being carried over to the engine," says Lloyd's Register FOBAS, "we recommend best practice in keeping bunkers segregated. Furthermore, it is also advisable to optimize the shipÕs total purification plant as a standing procedure. When the quality of the fuel has been verified, further adjustments may then be made to the treatment process."

Ships planning to bunker in the Port Said area, or that have recently done so, are recommend to request that suppliers confirm that bunkers supplied are not contaminated in a similar manner and fully comply with the ISO 8217 marine fuel standard against the ship's specified grade.

Lloyd's Register FOBAS also recommends that bunker samples and/or on board fuel system samples be sent for quality verification before any attempt is made to use the bunkers.

Lloyd's Register FOBAS notes that "these findings are unusual for this port and it is hoped that this failure in the supply chain will be quickly resolved.

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