IMO2020 Viewpoint: Managing Unknown VLSFO Fuel Stability in ARA

by Ron van den Berg, Eurocheck Marine
Thursday October 24, 2019

The uncertain stability of compliant fuels is an issue that must not been forgotten. With start of the global 0.50% sulfur cap just over two months away, vessels are already starting to load compliant fuels ahead of the new IMO regulation coming into force from January 1, 2020.

The first batches of fuel are being loaded on board in suitable storage tanks to avoid an overstated sulfur content. However, in my opinion the bigger question is whether the fuel onboard is stable and/or is it possible to mix without any problems with other batches of compliant fuels from other sources? It is this, not managing the sulfur content, that is the big challenge!

The major oil companies supply their compliant fuels on a guaranteed basis in connection to the specifications, but what will ARA's independent suppliers do? These suppliers buy their batches from different oil companies and/or traders, and one of the biggest uncertainties are: How will they treat the fuel onboard of their supply barges? Are they mixing the fuel in their barges? We have seen this in past years within ARA.

Many suppliers load their barges with fixed stems and then supply to several vessels. In cases where the barge has a possibility to load another parcel, they often make a pump over to another barge and/or possibly mix the fuel with their previous onboard quantity.

To avoid unwanted stability problems, Eurocheck Marine is helping their clients by offering pre-bunker Stability and Compatibility testing. For this new service we can draw a sample from the supplying barge at their loading terminal and test it before the barge arrives alongside the sea vessel. This service will be an advantage for all parties involved in that particular fuel supply. At special request our inspector will also board the receiving vessel at berth/jetty to carry out a stability and/or compatibility test, just before the delivery takes place.

Parties looking to learn more about this service can contact Eurocheck Marine B.V. at to discus how our services could protect your interest in future  upcoming bunker deliveries. As our slogan says: Better safe than sorry!