Contaminated Bunker Fuel Supplies in Houston Continue

by Dr. R. Vis, Director, Viswa Lab
Monday June 11, 2018

Sorry to report, the contaminated bunker fuel supplies in Houston continue.

We analyzed well over 100 samples from Houston area. From this, we selected 40 samples from suppliers who had supplied problem fuels in the month of March and April. We wanted to check if the quality of the bunker fuel had improved. Out of the 40 samples tested, 26 samples had high TAN values ranging from 0.5 to 0.9 mg KOH/g. These TAN values are very similar to the values we had obtained for the problem fuels of March and April.

In order to further confirm the presence of acids, we carried out a FTIR screening on a random basis. These were performed on fuels with lower end TAN values (0.5) to the higher end TAN values (0.9). In all the four samples, we did find the presence of acids. In order to check if TAN was clearly indicative of the problem, we picked up two samples with low TAN values (0.2) and subjected them to FTIR screening and looked for acids. We did NOT see any acids.

It is necessary to carry out a GCMS analysis on all the 26 samples with high TAN values, in order to determine and quantify the various acids. Past analysis has confirmed the presence of Dodecanoic acid (C12), Tetradecanoic acid (C14), Hexadecanoic acid (C16), Octadecanoic acid (C18), Oleic acid (C18) and Eicosanoic acid (C20). We expect to see similar analysis on the remaining samples.

On the single case we reported on our Technical Update yesterday, the Acid Analysis using GCMS was performed and we saw all the above acids, amounting to 1300 ppm in total.

Once again, we advise you not to be complacent, if you are bunkering in Houston and surrounding areas. We urge you to take all precautions listed in our earlier updates. One of our customers is planning to ask for a warranty. Another of our customers is considering filing a police case. This is for your information.