0.50% sulfur bunker fuels. Image Credit: Ship & Bunker. Samples provided by V-Tic.
Disputes over the sulfur content of new IMO 2020-compliant fuel blends are likely to be declining, with fewer fuels now tested as being over the new 0.50% sulfur limit, according to testing company VPS.
"In terms of sulfur compliance the VLSFOs have seen a significant improvement," Steve Bee, group commercial and business development director at VPS, said in a webinar hosted by Ship & Bunker Tuesday.
Some 8% of very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) samples tested by VPS at the end of 2019 came out as having sulfur content over 0.50%, Bee said, but by March-April 2020 that figure had fallen to 1.1%.
High Sulfur Residue
The high initial level is likely to have been caused by the remnants of high sulfur fuel oil that had not been properly cleaned from bunker storage and delivery infrastructure being accidentally mixed into VLSFO at the time of the switch.
These high-sulfur contaminants will have gradually been washed away since the start of this year, leading to the subsequent decline.
A small number of samples -- 0.8% of the total -- fell into the 0.51-0.53% bracket where they would be regarded as legally non-compliant but might be considered commercially acceptable. A very small number of cases -- just 0.3% of the total -- were found to have sulfur content over 0.53%.
Some cases of more start non-compliance remain, however; one sample from Europe was tested as having 1.43% sulfur content, Bee said.
A replay of Ship & Bunker's 'State of the Industry' webinar from Tuesday, as well as the presenters' slides, can be found here.