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UK-based Star International has launched a range of on-board fuel testing and treatment products developed to meet the requirements of IMO 2020 compliance and minimise the contamination risks associated with an increase of Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) based fuels in the marine supply chain.

The product range includes a portable XRF fuel sulphur content tester which can be used to confirm the sulphur mixture of fuel in the range of 0.10% - 5%. This is complemented by the Star FUELSTAT contamination testing kit, used on-board to detect the following contaminants: Hormoconis resinae (diesel bug), bacteria and fungi.

Testing capabilities are complemented by the Star Mariner range of fuel treatments. These marine-specific additives can be used to treat common problems arising from the use of FAME based fuels, including; contamination, temperature induced coagulation and degradation.

In a statement issued yesterday (4 February), Alan Stewart, Marine Fuel Consultant at Star International, said: ‘IMO 2020 is set to cause considerable uncertainty within the marine fuel supply chain, in terms of both the composition of the fuel being supplied and its susceptibility to contamination. 

‘On the one hand you have an obligation to ensure that fuel is within the prescribed sulphur limits, and on the other operators will want to ensure that the fuel is free of contamination at the point of bunkering.

‘Even for operators who opt for exhaust scrubbers or similar technologies over low sulphur fuels, there is huge scope for cross contamination, meaning that testing at the point of refuelling is really the only way to confirm what you are bringing on-board.’

Star International said that many fuel producers will turn to blended fuel oils containing FAME to create IMO 2020-compliant biofuel alternatives.

‘Reliance on FAME will help to achieve the targets set out by the IMO,’ said Star International. ‘However, concerns have been voiced by maritime experts that the move will leave the marine fuel supply chain open to an enhanced risk of contamination.’

According to Stewart: ‘This has already proven the case in UK agricultural and plant fuel supplies, where higher FAME concentrations of circa 7% entered the supply chain during Q2 2019. This has resulted in widespread microbial contamination, together with storage issues including temperature induced coagulation and degradation of fuel while in storage.

‘Due to the rise in FAME, end users in these sectors are now relying on regular testing and the use of fuel additives to protect their hardware from damage, reduce downtime and ensure that fuel remains in a usable condition. Given the complexities of implementing IMO 2020, a similar situation in the marine supply chain would not be surprising.’


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