SURVEY: Support Grows for Mandatory GCMS Testing After Singapore Bunker Contamination

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Thursday April 21, 2022

A majority of bunker buyers may now support making GCMS testing mandatory in the wake of the bunker contamination cases that have hit Singapore in recent weeks.

Brokerage NSI held a webinar this week discussing the recent contamination problems. Testing firms have reported finding chlorinated hydrocarbons in Singapore HSFO samples between February and March, and Singapore's MPA has said about 80 of the 200 ships that received contaminated fuel reported subsequent fuel pump and engine damage.

The contamination was not detectable through conventional ISO 8217 testing, and was found only with more advanced gas chromatography-mass spectometry (GCMS) tests. These tests were popularised in the bunker market after being successfully used to track the bunker contamination originating in Houston in 2018 that became a worldwide problem that year.

GCMS testing requires much more expensive equipment than the conventional ISO 8217 tests, and its widespread use would raise costs for the bunker industry.

NSI surveyed its webinar audience on potential responses to the contamination cases, and received about 100 responses, a representative told Ship & Bunker.

"We conducted a number of polls with the participants to take the temperature of the owners and charterers on key points, the results of these should be considered through the lens that they represent the ideas and views of technical and commercial departments," the company said in an emailed note to clients on Thursday.

"At the moment this could not be considered representative of the market as a whole as no supplier representation involved, but it gives us a good idea of what the buy side of the market wants."

Of the survey respondents, 49% said full GCMS analysis should be provided as part of pre-bunkering formalities at all ports, and a further 20% said it should be provided at ports where it was practical to do so. 24% said it should not be mandatory, but that they would be willing to pay a premium for it.

The remaining 6% said it should not be mandatory and that they would not be willing to pay a premium for the service.

"There was no support in the room for the idea that such claims are an isolated incident and did not warrant any increased scrutiny of quality," NSI said.

The other survey questions and responses are as follows: