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Rushing to be ready for 2020

ISO may produce intermediate ISO 8217 specifications prior to 2020, Unni Einemo reports

There’s not enough time to produce a new fully revised ISO 8217 standard before 2020, but it is possible that a so-called “publicly available specification” could be ready sooner in response to a request from the IMO for ISO to “keep consistency between the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard and implementation of the 0.50% sulphur limit”.

The 6th edition of the standard was published in March 2017 but it was not able to address all of the issues arising from the introduction to the market of several less conventional types of marine fuels with maximum 0.10% sulphur for operation in emission control areas (ECAs). Quality concerns specific to low sulphur types of fuel are expected to become even more pressing with the 0.50% sulphur limit in 2020. The normal revision process takes at least three years so it would not be ready prior to 2020, but sometime late in 2020 at the earliest, probably later.


However, it is possible for the ISO 8217 technical committee (ISO TC28/SC4/WG6) to provide an interim solution by producing a publicly available specification (PAS), which is an intermediate specification published prior to a full International Standard.
A PAS is initially valid for up to three years, after which it may be extended for up to another three years or can be withdrawn. The PAS, or elements of it, could be adopted as part of the next full ISO

8217 revision.


At the moment, ISO 8217 is divided into distillate marine (MD) grades, distillate FAME (DF) grades and residual marine (RM) grades. We already have some fuels meeting the 0.10% sulphur limit in ECAs that do not fit into the distillate category, and hence are typically sold under ISO 8217 residual marine specifications (RM grades).

ISO 8217 will likely continue to have DM grades (pure distillate fuels) so the main question is how it will address the low sulphur fuel blends that fall into the RM category today.


The most pressing quality concerns about the blends that are expected to be produced to meet the 0.50% sulphur limit in 2020 relate to stability and the compatibility between various products, and this would likely be the focus of the work. It could include incorporating new test methods to get a better measure of fuel stability

and compatibility.

It will be a challenge to come up with ISO 8217 specifications for the low sulphur fuels that are not traditional distillates because their compositions can vary so much. They may be based on vacuum gas oil (VGO), or blends incorporating various heavy and light refinery product streams, including residual fuel oils and middle distillates.


New testing kit gives quick results

Monitoring technologies manufacturer Parker Kittiwake has launched its Parker Kittiwake Attenuated Total Reflection (ATR) analyser. According to the company, the analyser “represents a breakthrough for the simultaneous testing of base number (BN), total acid number (TAN), insolubles, soot loading, viscosity, FAME and water content of oil samples on board a ship, allowing all parameters to be measured using a single sample in one test kit”. The ATR analyser uses infrared spectroscopy to determine the presence of damaging elements such as solid particles or water in a sample of oil.

Parker Kittiwake says that frequent testing is essential to understanding the operating conditions in the system, allowing engineers to prevent unnecessary damage to critical and expensive engine components. Until now, operators have required a suite of condition monitoring tools to determine the operational integrity
of the system, testing for each potentially damaging element separately. This increases cost, the time needed to carry out the testing, and the amount of equipment required. The new analyser allows operators to combine all of these tests and measure the parameters simultaneously using a single, onboard test kit.


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Deputy Editor: Unni Einemo - unni@ibia.net
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