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The revision of the ISO 8217 international marine fuel specification has been completed and the Final Draft International Standard (FDIS) - the fourth edition - will become the official standard before the end of June 2009.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) working group in charge of the ISO 8217 revision has been working to a tight deadline due to pressure from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ensure the fourth edition became ready for publication by July 2010.
A number of important and significant changes have been made in the fourth edition, ISO 8217:2010, compared to ISO 8217:2005, the third edition.
New parameters for both distillate and residual fuels are the inclusion of acid number limits and, from July 1, 2012, a limit on hydrogen sulphide (H2S).
For distillate grades, oxidation stability and a lubricity requirement have been introduced.
New parameters introduced for residual marine fuels are Calculated Carbon Aromaticity Index (CCAI) as an indicator of ignition delay, and a limit on sodium content.
Limits for ash and vanadium have been tightened, and there has been a significant reduction in limits for aluminium plus silicon (Al+Si), also know as cat fines.
There have been mixed reactions in the industry as the proposed changes in the DFIS became known.
Global bunker supplier Chemoil has warned that the latest revision to the ISO 8217 fuel specification could lead to an increase in 'off-spec' fuels, in particular with regards to Al+Si and CCAI.
"It is our view, that in its proposed form, the revisions will both add to the cost of bunkering and increase the number of disputes over fuel specifications between ship operators and bunker suppliers," Adrian Tolson, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Chemoil Energy, wrote in a Bunkerworld blog.
Several leading bunker fuel testing agencies, however, have told Bunkerworld they did not anticipate a dramatic increase in incidents of fuels not meeting the specification, or 'off-spec' bunker fuel, from the changes in ISO 8217.
Tore Morten Wetterhus, managing director of DNV Petroleum Services (DNVPS) said they expected there to be "some more off-specs in a transition phase - before the industry adjusts," as has been the case with previous revisions.
"The intention is not to hurt or 'catch out' suppliers," commented Tim Wilson Product Manager at FOBAS and a member of the ISO 8217 Working Group.
"I don't envisage a big increase in off-specs," he told Bunkerworld.
Tolson, however, has warned that there was a direct conflict between increased use of low sulphur residual bunker fuel and a reduced Al+Si limit.
"These metals are found typically in the lower sulphur blend stocks used to produce low sulphur bunker fuel. The net result would be the increased use of more costly blend stocks," he said.
An increasing tendency for low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) to have more Al + Si has been documented by fuel testing agencies.
The latest Bunkerworld Poll asks:
Will the revised ISO 8217 standard lead to a significant increase in off-spec fuels?