Bunker Industry Could See Interim ISO 8217 Marine Fuel Standard Ahead of 2020

Friday October 6, 2017

"Pressing quality concerns" about non-distillate, low sulfur fuel blends, which are coming into the bunker market to meet the demand from 2020, could be met with an interim version of the ISO 8217 fuel standard.

The request to the ISO to have something in time for 2020 came from the International Maritime Organization.

International Bunker Industry Association's IMO representative, Unni Einemo, told Ship & Bunker that there was concern in the industry.

"There's a lot of anxiety in the industry about the nature of the 0.50% sulphur fuels, hence I'm sure any guidance the ISO 8217 technical committee is able to provide by 2020 will be gratefully received," Einemo said.

While a fully revised version could not be produced in time for the 0.50% global sulfur cap, a publicly available specification (PAS) of the ISO standard is possible, IBIA said in a note to its membership.

"The most pressing quality concerns about the blends that are expected to be produced to meet the 0.50% sulphur limit in 2020 relate to stability and the compatibility between various products," the note said.

The technical committee's work on quality issues could include new test methods to get a better measure of fuel stability and compatibility.

"It is possible that the ISO 8217 technical committee (ISO TC28/SC4/WG6) could work on an interim solution by producing a PAS, which is an intermediate specification published prior to a full International Standard," it said.

The latest edition of the standard published in March dealt with the issue of fatty acid methyl ester(s) (FAME) and introduced a new reporting requirement on cold flow properties for winter grade distillates (cloud point and cold filter plugging point) but did not address the issues arising from the introduction to the market of several, less conventional types of marine fuels with maximum 0.10% sulphur for operation in emission control areas.

A PAS can run for three years and then be extended for another three years or withdrawn. "The PAS, or elements of it, could be adopted as part of the next full ISO 8217 revision," the note pointed out.