John Nilsen (Bunker Purchasing Manager), Håkon Kiil (Head of Business Analytics) and Geir Frode Abelsen (Head of Technical Operations).Image Credit: Höegh Autoliners
Höegh Autoliners says it has already begun the process of cleaning its vessels' bunker tanks ahead of the switch to IMO2020 compliant low sulfur bunker fuel.
"We have evaluated the alternative methods of IMO 2020 compliance, and decided to go for the new compliant fuel as the vast majority of the shipping companies," says Håkon Kiil, Head of Business Analytics is leading Höegh's IMO 2020 implementation group.
"We have also started our preparations with tank cleaning as all tanks need to be compliant before 1 January 2020, and we expect to consume compliant fuel before the deadline."
Of the 55 vessels in the company's fleet, 40 are under Höegh's own operational management which means it must clean over 450 bunker tanks.
"This is a huge job", says Geir Frode Abelsen, Head of Technical Operations in Höegh Autoliners.
Geir Frode Abelsen, Head of Technical Operations, Höegh Autoliners
Each tank will be cleaned twice according to a set method, before we can be sure that there is no residual from Heavy Sulphur Fuel left in them
"Each tank will be cleaned twice according to a set method, before we can be sure that there is no residual from Heavy Sulphur Fuel left in them. This work has already started on board our vessels."
With the potential for much of the new VSLFO bunker fuel to be produced as close as possible to the 0.50% sulfur limit, even a small amount of high sulfur fuel remaining in a vessel's fuel system could result in it being noncompliant when tested at the engine inlet.
Robin Meech, Managing Director, Marine and Energy Consulting Limited, has previously warned that the task of cleaning the fuel systems of the vast majority of the world fleet is too great and predicts high levels of non-compliance as a result.
Of course there are many other factors to take into account when preparing for IMO2020.
"There is still uncertainty connected to whether smaller bunker ports will have enough compliant fuel as we move in to 2020," says John Nilsen, Bunker Purchasing Manager.
"This is something we expect the refineries to show the shipping industry a solution to, before the new regulations take effect."
The new 0.50% sulfur cap on marine fuel comes into force from January 1, 2020.