With MARPOL Annex VI already beginning to change the landscapes of commercial and pleasure boating alike, SuperyachtNews.com invited Oliver Rumford-Warr of Fuelcare to explain how best to prepare your superyacht...

MARPOL Annex VI was officially introduced on January 1 2015 for Emission Control Areas (ECAs); these areas include the North Sea, the Eastern Seaboard of the US, and by 2020, will include the Mediterranean (the initial proposal is to cover the entire Mediterranean, however, this may be unworkable or unenforced in the Eastern Med).

Under MARPOL Annex VI the global Sulphur cap will be reduced from 3.5 per cent to 0.5 per cent, effective from January 1 2020, while within ECAs the cap will fall below 0.1 per cent, from January 1 2015. It is the engineers’ and captains’ responsibility to ensure that all fuel taken on board meets these limits and other fuels are not mixed with ECA-compliant fuels.  The first fines for vessel engineers for non-compliance were imposed in the North Sea earlier this year.

How will these changes impact superyacht engineers?

Sulphur inhibits the proliferation of microbial growth (‘the diesel bug’) in fuel, and as a consequence the less sulphur present, the more likely organic growth is in marine fuels. This issue leads to filter blockages, fuel starvation and engine shutdown, fuel pump failure as well as tank and line corrosion if left unchecked. Reducing water content in fuel tanks will prevent this issue, but it is often difficult to remove water completely.

However, the main issue with the lessening of the Sulphur cap is reduced fuel stability. Reduced stability leads to increased tank sludge, fuel discolouration (long chain hydrocarbons / asphaltenes) and reduced lubricity causing possible fuel pump system failure and other related issues. Processing to remove Sulphur removes other components with natural lubricity and a two to three per cent reduction in fuel economy is highly likely.

Commercial fleets will be bunkering far greater amounts of marine gas oil (distillate/MGO) in order to comply with the new legislation, which in turn may lead to possible supply chain shortages and a rise in fuel costs - despite current oil price falls. As a result EN590 may be supplied to superyachts unknowingly, in contravention of SOLAS and invalidating insurance cover due to the lower flash point of EN590 when compared to ISO 8217 distillate.

When refuelling engineers should always be taking on board ISO 8217 distillate as opposed to EN590 automotive fuel. If offered any bio-derived, they should not bunker - particularly for lifeboat applications.

To protect against possible fines for non-compliance of Sulphur content in fuels, ensure a bunker delivery note is supplied & retained for three years as proof of MARPOL compliance and ensure 2 x 400ml samples are received, sealed & labelled, with one kept on board and one for laboratory testing - preferably from the bunkering line.

Lastly, Fuelcare can offer an additive technology designed to protect against the risks of using new low sulphur fuels. The product, Octamar LI-5 Plus, is the only Lloyds Register approved fuel additive available and is used by some of the world’s largest marine companies to reduce risks to engines and fuel systems as a result of MARPOL Annex VI. Octamar LI-5 Plus is a combined product that addresses the potential issues associated with the use of low sulphur marine distillate fuels. It offers improved lubricity, improved fuel stability and protection against fuel injector fouling, fuel filter plugging and corrosion. Through continued use, Octamar improves fuel economy and reduces emissions. Octamar Li-5 Plus can be applied continuously using an automated dosing system located in the bunkering line, such a system was recently fitted to the new build MY Kibo.