Since it issued a bunker alert on 26 April VPS said the problems had affected at least 30 vessels in its programme, “making it one of the most widespread fuel quality issues of recent years”.
In all samples where vessels in its programme that have experienced problems VPS has identified the presence of 4-Cumyl-Phenol which is used in the the manufacture of epoxy resins and as an emulsifier in pesticides, both of which utilise the adhesive qualities 4-cumyl-phenol exhibits.
The problem has spread across the supply chain with it not limited to a single barge or supplier, but VPS said more likely an upstream or potential refinery problem, although the exact cause remains unknown. VPS said its statistics showed eight suppliers and 17 bunker tankers currently in the supply chain.
The contamination does not show up in standard ISO 8217 but is in breach of the specification which states: “The fuel should not include any added substance or chemical waste which jeopardizes the safety or adversely affects the performance of the machinery; or is harmful to personnel; or contributes overall to additional air pollution.”