Offshore Technology Conference, Houston 2012 – Visit Kittiwake on Booth 2241-D

On 30th April – 3rd May, Kittiwake will be exhibiting at OTC 2012.

Come and see us on Booth 2241-D to see how our on-line and on-board condition monitoring solutions can help maximize up-time. Find out how we can help you make informed decisions about asset operation, lubricant changes, emissions levels, and service intervals, on the spot.

  • Reduce Risk
  • Increase Up-Time
  • Monitor Emissions
  • Implement Predictive Service Intervals
  • Full Critical Asset Coverage
  • Simple to Use
  • Rapid Integration
For more information visit us on Booth 2241-D or
We look forward to seeing you there!

Kittiwake launches ATEX certified Metallic Wear Debris Sensor

Kittiwake has launched its ATEX and IECEx certified metallic wear debris sensor. Continuously checking the health of an asset and providing alerts to changing wear patterns, the sensor provides the user with instantaneous condition information and can now be used in hazardous zone 1 and 2 applications.

ATEX & IECEx certified metallic wear debris sensor

Traditionally used with critical gearboxes, the addition of ATEX and IECEx certification allows the sensor to be used in environments where explosive gases are likely to be present; such as around top drives, draw works, mud pumps and also in chemical plants, refineries and other oil and gas areas.

The metallic wear debris sensor can be mounted within any lubrication system on any type of asset. The sensor measures ferrous and non-ferrous metals within the lubricant, using a combination of proven inductive coil technology, combined with smart algorithms to provide a particle size distribution count.

Martin Lucas, managing director, Kittiwake Group said: “While temperature, pressure, vibration and acoustic emission sensors all have their part to play in a condition monitoring package, early detection of changes in oil and lubricant condition and regular, consistent monitoring of wear metal debris in rotating plant provide greater insight into the actual condition of vital machinery and equipment.

“With both ATEX and IECEx certification, this new product is now suitable for hazardous environments where potentially explosive gas, vapour or mist is present. This is an industry first as there is no similar device certified for use in Zone 1.”

To learn more about the metallic wear debris sensor click here.

Follow this link to visit the Kittiwake Information Centre, a comprehensive condition monitoring resource.

For more information email:

Article of Interest – Poll supports review of statutory flash point limit

A recent article on Bunkerworld examined the current opinion on flash point limits:

“Flash point refers to the lowest temperature at which a fuel can vaporise to form an ignitable mixture in air

Nearly half of respondents to a poll on Bunkerworld believe it would be safe to reduce the current 60°C minimum flash point limit for marine fuels, either to 55°C, or possibly even lower.

The poll asked if it was time for the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to review the minimum flash point limit for marine distillate fuels.

A 60°C minimum flash point limit is set under the IMO’s SOLAS regulation, making it a statutory requirement.  It is also the minimum limit in the commercially used ISO 8217 global fuel specification.

There has been an increase in supply of ‘off-spec’ low sulphur low sulphur marine gas oil (MGO) where the flash point is near or below the minimum 60°C limit, indicating that fuels from the inland market are finding their way into the marine fuels sector/

This is expected to get worse as demand for low sulphur MGO increases due to regulations requiring ships to use fuels with maximum 0.1% sulphur content, and has led to calls for a review of the limit from some parts of the shipping industry.

The question hinges around what limit represents an acceptable safety risk on board ships, and if limits considered acceptable for land-based fuels can be translated to safe ship operations.

27% of the poll respondents said they think the flash point limit can safely be changed to 55°C, which would bring it into line with the limit for inland distillate fuels inEurope.

A significant share, 19%, replied they think the limit can safely be changed to 55°C or even lower.

The biggest share of votes, 42%, said the IMO and the ISO should research safe limits and change it as appropriate.

Only 13% of the Bunkerworld poll respondents said they think the limit must stay at 60°C minimum for safety reasons.

Discussions about the poll question on Bunkerworld and other on-line fora pointed to several observers welcoming a lower limit as they think the current 60°C minimum limit is over cautious and out of date.

One motivation, which may be important to bunker suppliers, is to reduce the potential for ‘off-spec’ claims.

Because of the statutory nature and safety implications of the flash point limit, which can potentially leave a ship out of class, off-spec cases are more likely to lead to costly debunkerings than other types of off-spec fuels.  Other types of off-spec fuels might be manageable for the vessel as long as they know about the problem and can give it special attention during onboard fuel treatment.

Another motivation, which has been advocated by shipping giant Maersk and the shipping organisation BIMCO, is that reducing the limit for distillates to 55°C could open a wider supply basis for the marine fuels market.  This would be particularly relevant when demand for low sulphur MGO is set to soar with the introduction of a 0.10% sulphur limit in Emission Control Areas.

A warning, however, came from Mike Ball, bunker manager with Gearbulk (UK) Ltd, that opening for the use of automotive gas oil for shipping would also increase the risk of product containing bio-fuels entering the marine fuels market, bringing “another set of issues for the shipowner to manage.”

Several observers have pointed out that even if there was a review, it would be a huge challenge to change the flash point limit for marine fuel because it is embedded in a range of IMO conventions, codes and resolutions that refer to the current limit.

The poll was open for voting by the industry from August 24 to November 9, 2011 and attracted responses from a wide range of industry participants, including bunker providers, buyers, fuel testing agencies, other marine service sectors and industry observers

The new poll on Bunkerworld looks at the issue of whether the transition to the global 3.50% sulphur limit, due from the start of 2012, will be a challenge.  Votes and comments are welcome on the poll which you can access by clicking on this link.”

11th November 2011 11:03 GMT

Global sales conference takes place at Kittiwake

On the 31st October Kittiwake sales representatives from across the globe arrived at the Kittiwake head office for a week of presentations, discussions and workshops. The conference was overseen by Dr Steve Dye, Business Development Manger at Kittiwake, and was attended by the sales teams from the UK, America, Malaysia, India, & Germany. Delegates from Kittiwake’s recently acquired group companies, Kittiwake Procal & Kittiwake Holroyd were also present and shared their knowledge into the fields of Gas Emissions monitoring & Acoustic Vibration analysis. The agenda covered the current product range including hands-on training, Kittiwake’s target markets, R&D projects as well as future directions.

Managing Fuel Quality Variations to Protect Marine Engines

Prevention is better (and more cost-effective) than cure

Heavy fuel oil has been the mainstay of the shipping industry’s fuel needs for several decades, but the composition of bunker fuel is going through some significant changes; leading to variations in fuel quality and new risks to the health of marine engines. With fuel quality affecting performance and maintenance costs, the benefits of troubleshooting using onboard and online tools and technology are increasingly pronounced.

Residual fuel has been used in slow speed diesel engines for years. However, as refining and bunkering technologies have improved, so residual fuel increasingly contains higher levels of unwanted components such as sulphur, aluminium and silicon (catalyst fines) and waste plastics – all factors that can dramatically affect engine condition.

Stricter emissions regulations have also driven changes in fuel composition. The revised International Maritime Organisation (IMO) MARPOL Annex VI reduced the maximum sulphur level in Environmental Control Areas to just 1% from 1st July 2010. To meet the increased demand for low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO), suppliers have used higher volumes of cutter stock; additives, including distillate fuels, that are blended with residual fuels to achieve compliance with sulphur limits. However, little attention has been paid to the quality of cutter stocks, which has led to growing concerns over fuel quality.

One of the most significant consequences of the increased demand for LSFO during 2010 has been higher levels of aluminium and silicon (catalyst fines) contamination. Fuel quality data from DNV Petroleum Services (DNVPS) has revealed that the catalyst fine content of fuel oil with 1% or less sulphur content rose by almost 10% – 3mg/kg to 34mg/kg – between H1 and Q3 2010. DNVPS attributes this to increased use of cutter stocks.

The consequences can be severe. Elevated levels of these highly abrasive catalyst fines can lead to accelerated wear of engine components. BMT Marine & Offshore Surveys has reported at least 30 instances of engine damage caused by fuel problems related to catalyst fines since 2001. Each required a complete renewal of pistons, liners and injectors, costing between $1 million and $3m each.

The June 2010 revisions to the ISO8217 specification for marine fuel reduced the aluminium and silicon limit from 80mg/kg to 60mg/kg. However, this is non-mandatory and a slow take-up of the new specification has been reported. The likely outcome is a greater risk of off-spec fuels.

The global economic downturn has also put pressure on the cost base of the industry, with implications for fuel quality. The reduced quality of ships personnel, notably chief engineers, and operational cost cutting has undermined robust condition monitoring practices. Gerry Williams, principal surveyor at BMT Marine & Offshore Surveys Ltd has observed that “bad fuel” often had more to do with poor handling than sub-standard fuel.

So, non-mandatory fuel standards, cost pressures and the increased use of cutter stocks have led to concerns about fuel quality. Moreover, vessels take on board bunkers and continue their voyage long before fuel sample testing takes place. This places the risks squarely on the shoulders of the operator. Indeed, it is little wonder that independent tanker owner association INTERTANKO recently called for mandatory pre-testing of bunkers before delivery to ensure they are fit for use.

Whilst the testing of bunker samples is increasingly important, in order to maximise effectiveness, this should be supported by engine wear monitoring; critical to identifying problems at a very early stage.

There is a clear benefit in knowing what is going on at an exact point in time – not just when the engineer can get to a machine for a scheduled analysis. The liner is one of the most crucial and costly components of a ship’s engine. Monitoring wear extends its life and protects against considerable financial pain, as the average insurance claim for an unexpected liner loss is over $250,000. By monitoring the scrapedown oil for ferrous wear, online diagnostic equipment can continuously provide complete sets of trend data showing levels of wear in all critical equipment and machinery, enabling immediate action. This allows corrective measures, including checking the fuel cleaning system, preventative maintenance during passage to the next port, or even a route change, and insures against costly downtime.

Monitoring liner wear also helps optimise lubricant feed rate. An average container ship can spend $10 million on cylinder lubrication in its life. Dependent upon trade, load, running hours and other factors, constant real-time monitoring is a vital tool in optimising cylinder lube oil feed rate in order to improve efficiency, decreasing lubricant costs and avoiding issues associated with over and under-lubrication.

As fuel quality varies and engine health risks rise, so the benefits of troubleshooting using online tools and technology can equate to millions of dollars in savings. Sending samples off for laboratory analysis is an effective means of condition monitoring if you have time, but is, for most owners and operators, too late to implement preventative measures. Spotting problems at an early stage can make the difference between damage control and a financial, operational and reputational catastrophe.

Martin Lucas, Managing Director, Kittiwake Developments

Seatrade Asia, September 2011

Effect of the global rise in cat fines on marine engines

Martin Lucas, managing director, Kittiwake explores how environmental, as well as commercial demands are placing growing pressure on the efficiency and reliability of marine engines.

At the Bunker Asia 2011 forum earlier this month, the General Manager of DNVPS’ global consultancy division, Torbjorn Lie warned of a ‘global rise in cat fines’ when the North American emission control area (ECA) takes effect
 from 1 August 2012. Fuel testing agencies have been correlating the declining sulphur levels and increasing levels of Aluminium + Silicon (cat fines) for some time now. They forewarned that these problems would become progressively more pronounced as emissions regulations tighten, and it seems their predictions are being affirmed.

Changing fuel characteristics are an environmental bi-product and one that is directly impacting wear levels of critical machinery. Fuel quality issues can cause incomplete burning, which leads to increased deposition of carbonaceous materials in exhaust spaces, economisers and turbochargers, and the clogging of engine parts such as piston rings. Just one illustration of the problems being caused comes from BMT Marine & Offshore Surveys Ltd. who last year reported that, since 2001, it has dealt with at least 30 instances of engine damage caused by fuel problems related to cat fines. Perhaps not an enormous number, but significant numbers indeed when you consider that each one required a complete renewal of pistons, liners and injectors, at a cost of USD$1 million to USD$3 million each.

DNVPS had previously revealed that the cat fine content of fuel oil with 1% or less sulphur content rose by almost 10% – 3mg/kg to 34mg/kg – between H1 and Q3 2010. However Lie suggested this month that average cat fine content in fuels supplied in Singapore could reach 50 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) after the start of the North American ECA around the coasts of USA and Canada from next year.

However reducing sulphur levels are not the only environmental initiative impacting engine wear. With rising bunker prices, slow steaming looks set to stay and with it the associated challenges for marine engineers. Most container vessels have cut cruising speeds from 22-25 knots to 18-20 and some as low as 8-12 knots, significantly increasing stresses and strains on marine engines.

The cylinder oil feed rate requires close attention during slow steaming, as both under- and over-lubrication can lead to rapid degradation of the cylinder liners. The ship’s crew is responsible for adjusting settings in line with the sulphur content of the fuel, as specified by the engine manufacturer. But without continuously monitoring the wear levels of the liners, it is extremely difficult to be absolutely sure that you’re lubricating at the optimum level. And with an average container ship spending in the region of US$10 million on cylinder lubrication during its lifetime, operating at the optimum level could realise significant cost savings.

In these times of austerity, improving vessel efficiency is a priority and a plethora of sophisticated condition monitoring tools are available to assist with this task. For example sensors attached to the cylinder liners can detect the very early onset of severe erosion, monitor scuffing, improve maintenance scheduling, safeguard against down time, optimise lubricant feed rate, decrease sampling and testing costs, minimise liner wear and detect the ingress of cat fines.

Despite the multiple and demonstrable benefits, there is still a reluctance to embrace some of the more state-of-the-art technology. Germanischer Lloyd CEO, Erik van der Norrdaa was quoted, earlier this year, as saying: “The shipping industry is immature and it is difficult to convince shipowners to use available analytical and other software tools to improve vessel performance.”

This is one perspective, but with maintenance costs totaling 25%-30% of total ship management costs (excluding fuel), in reality, many ship owners would be absolutely delighted to make use of the technology. However in tough times, the likelihood is that conservative adoption is less about immaturity and more to do with up front capital expenditure. There simply isn’t the cash available to make lump sum investments, however much one might like to.

Kittiwake is just one company working with customers to develop more affordable ways to access products and services. For example our LinerSCAN product – online sensors that safeguard engine liners – can now be purchased for a markedly lower price, with the option to pay a lower up front cost and spread the remaining amount over a three-year period for multiple vessel purchases.

Now more than ever, ship owners have the opportunity to maintain a clear competitive advantage through reliable, consistent operations. But it’s up to the whole industry to work together to navigate the challenges and barriers created by the economic and environmental climate in which we find ourselves.

Seatrade Asia, September 2011

Information proliferation: why it’s so important to cut through the noise on sampling and monitoring.

In 2010, more information was circulated globally than all the accumulated information passed in all previous years. The expediential expansion of the internet, particularly social media sites, has meant that the average internet user visits 59 domains and views 1,050 internet pages each month.

A shipping industry that is increasingly fast-moving – driven by new regulations, security issues, health and safety, the environment and increasingly public scrutiny – has not escaped this trend for greater proliferation and requirement for information. Shipowners and operators could be excused for feeling barraged by information. Nevertheless, finding information is important. Filtering through to the right information is even more important.

Take regulation, for example: whether it is the revised ISO 8217 (2010) on fuel content and quality, MARPOL Annex VI (sulphur emissions), ballast water, maritime security, health and safety, the list is endless. When ships take onboard bunker fuel, regulation is of paramount importance; otherwise the amount of bunker fuel piped onboard could not be assessed, nor contents and quality of the fuel fairly and accurately tested, for example. Moreover, as emissions are increasingly scrutinised by regulators, so an owner / operator needs to understand in detail what the compliance parameters are. Where can testing can take place? What testing facilities and equipment are available? What are the current emissions level requirements? What are the risks in procuring poor quality bunker fuel?

Bunker sampling and monitoring is an example of why it is not only essential to monitor the quality of fuels and protect critical equipment and machinery, but it is also imperative for regulatory compliance and dispute resolution purposes. Along with the monitoring of lubricants and emissions, regulation has meant the risks and rewards of accurate and reliable monitoring data can make a significant dent or improvement upon a ship owner or operator’s bottom line.

Given the increasing relevancy of condition monitoring to the shipping industry, Kittiwake has launched the world’s first marine-focused condition monitoring information portal: This resource is designed to provide stakeholders with detailed technical information and practical guidance across every aspect of marine condition monitoring, with information continually updated as international rules, regulations, technology and working practices change.

Cutting through the myriad of regulations and compliance issues can be complex. In May 2011, DNV Petroleum Services (DNVPS), the bunker fuel testing company, characterised “off-specification” bunker fuels as the “biggest challenge” in terms of the technical aspect of ship operators’ business during 2010. A DNV report concluded that 94% of 96 respondents coming from the technical, operations and management departments of shipping firms said they encountered problems with bunker fuel deliveries.

Around 50% of the shipping representatives said the “fuel quality cases they encountered were resolved in a satisfactory manner,” although 18% of them did not report a positive outcome. The 18% said the availability of an industry standard on fuel contaminants, technical advice guiding the ship on how to use problematic fuels and de-bunkering, would have been useful.

Additionally, over 90% of the representatives involved in purchasing, listed fuel performance indicators, which include off-specification delivery records and delivery quantities, as the most important considerations when buying bunkers.

Some 14% of the total respondents, meanwhile, said they had to debunker the seriously off-specification fuels they received, while 9% did not have to offload but managed to use the problematic fuels based on advice from fuel management companies.

Much of the challenge for ship-owners and operators procuring bunker fuel is that as the shipping industry moves to cleaner fuels, so the source of that fuel and the resulting content become more fragmented and, in some cases, incompatible. How many owner / operators, know, for example that when the purchase 1.0% Low Sulphur fuel that this fuel has been blended with “cutter stocks” such as marine diesel oil (MDO) that is diluted with Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO). As fuel sources alter and there is increasing demand for multiple emission level bunker fuel, so the cutter stock is less likely to be sourced from the same refinery or region as the HFO it is being blended with, for example.

Global bunker player O.W. Bunker last year urged fuel suppliers to take “greater responsibility” in helping ship-owners overcome the technical difficulties associated with using lower sulphur fuels. It warned some ship-owners and operators had been experiencing problems including loss of propulsion, engine failure, filter blockages and damage to auxiliary pumps. “Switching to low sulphur fuel oils and distillates is complex and there needs to be a deep understanding of the technical process,” Steffen Kortegaard, Technical Director, O.W. Bunker, was reported saying.

This view was recently corroborated by Iain Butterworth, Associate Director of UK-based Myton Law, who reported a rapid increase in cases of main engine failures, citing the rapid increase in engine technology and the engine’s compatibility with a much wider scope of fuel types and quality for the emerging trend.

If the real and potential danger of engine failure and the resulting costs of de-bunkering, as well as the potential litigation claims between owner / operator and bunker supplier were not by now self-evidenced, then INTERTANKO’s recent intervention on the matter underlines its importance.

INTERTANKO’s Technical Director Dragos Rauta explained the thinking behind its latest joint submission with Norway to the IMO, which presents data collected from two testing agencies, indicating that approximately 1.4% of bunkering worldwide was the cause of machinery problems when the ship started using the fuel. Rauta said ship operators faced two categories of problems related to bunkers, namely sulphur content, which can breach MARPOL Annex VI limits, and chemical contamination. Of the two, Rauta said chemical contamination was the most serious issue as it could cause engines to stop, or make operations very difficult.

Bunker sampling is not only essential for monitoring the quality of fuels and protecting critical equipment and machinery; it is also imperative for regulatory compliance and dispute resolution purposes. Testing of bunker fuel can be undertaken on-site or off-site in a dedicated laboratory. The table below indicates the testing possibilities for fuels specified in ISO 8217. Where an off-site test is not specified then the parameter is not covered in ISO 8217 for that grade of fuel.

On-site testing, enabled through Kittiwake’s product range of sampling equipment, for example, allows for an immediate decision to be made in case of an off specification fuel but with a limited number of achievable test parameters.

  • Density
  • Viscosity
  • Water (inc salt / fresh)
  • Pour Point
  • Cloud Point (used by military but infrequently by merchant marine)
  • Compatibility (c.f. sediment)

Off-site testing in a laboratory allows for a much larger number of test parameters to reflect the complete range within the fuel specification ISO 8217.

Understanding the benefits of what both “on site” and “off site” fuel testing provide the ship-owner / operator with offers a good example of how what was once a tick box on a spread sheet for a bunker surveyor has become increasingly complex and vital to the safe and profitable operation of a vessel.

It’s not just bunker fuel content that needs to be monitored. Reducing shipping emissions will be the major driver of change in the maritime industry for decades to come. In the near term, the sulphur limit for fuels burnt in emission control areas (ECAs) will drop from 1.0% to 0.10% in 2015. And since 2010, vessels also need to comply with EC Regulation 2005/33/EC when in EU ports, which, apart from a few exceptions, requires the use of 0.1% sulphur fuel or equivalent emissions. Moreover, legislation pertaining to Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) has already been implemented and, whilst beyond the horizon, legislation around greenhouse gases from either the IMO or the European Union, or both, is imminent.

So ship owners and operators have serious decisions to make and data sets to provide; ultimately based on a complex set of circumstances and a fluid regulatory background. However, there are only two viable options enabling vessels to comply with SOx emissions regulations; use fuel within sulphur limits or fit exhaust after-treatment systems.

Continuous emissions monitoring (CEM) has an important role to play in both, and ‘ in situ’ tools are the most accurate yet. The IMO regulation allows for abatement technology to achieve sulphur emission reductions and, in line with this, Wärtsilä recently predicted a “rapid ramp-up and development of the scrubber market”. Systems capable of measuring down to the equivalent of 0.1% sulphur fuel are key for confirming compliance with SOx regulations when after treatment is used.

With the wide proliferation of ECAs, information on what parameters constitute complicity in what region have become a pre-requisite, as is finding the right information to unravel the complexities of fuel monitoring and testing.

Winston Churchill once said: “True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous and conflicting information.” If, in 2010, the world communicated more information than ever before, what might we expect from 2011 and years to come? The shipping industry needs information, which in turns leads to knowledge and success. However ensuring the right information is collated, processed and acted upon when so much misinformation abounds, represents just as much of a challenge for shipping as it does everyone else.

Chris Leigh-Jones, Director, Kittiwake 


Bunkerspot, July 2011


Kittiwake to exhibit at OTC 2011

Continuous on-line monitoring provides the most representative picture of asset condition. Changes are highlighted as they start to occur and not just at planned inspection levels.

The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), held annually in Houston, is the world’s foremost event for the development of offshore resources in the fields of drilling, exploration, production, and environmental protection.

At OTC 2011 Kittiwake will be exhibiting the innovative new RIGmonitor as well as a range of our established on-board solutions. Find out how we can help you make informed decisions about asset operation, lubricant changes, emissions levels, and service intervals, on the spot.

  • Reduce Risk
  • Increase Up-Time
  • Implement Predictive Service Intervals
  • Full Critical Asset Coverage
  • Simple to Use
  • Rapid Integration

For more information visit us at Booth 2341-E or email

For more information about the event please click here.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Rig Monitor

Fuels, oils and emissions review feature

Fuel, the lifeblood of the shipping industry and 90% of the world’s trade, is becoming increasingly inconsistent. Each week, the industry is hit with news of rising crude oil prices, supply disruption in the Middle East and talk of different models for regulating emissions standards and meeting low sulphur caps, which in turn has led to an ever-evolving composition in fuels and a higher risk of incompatibility for ship operators.

Most recently, DNV has warned of the major impact on fuel supply in 2012 when the revised MARPOL Annex VI global sulphur cap will be reduced to 3.50%, with as much as 10% of global heavy fuel oil supply currently above 3.50% sulphur. The global sulphur average of residual fuels supplied to ship is currently around 2.4% according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) marine fuel sulphur monitoring programme, but in some markets in the Middle East and Asia, supplies are dominated by HFOs with much higher sulphur content.

As product quality and composition is increasingly inconsistent, there has been a surge in the use of higher viscosity and density grades that sell for the lowest prices, where the various impurities carried in the crude stock are not extracted with the more valuable hydrocarbon fractions and are concentrated in the residual fuel grades. Today the engine designer has to develop machines capable of operating on the worst grades of fuel available – not an easy task as the properties of these fuels are constantly varying.

Fuels that are unstable due to incompatibility between the blend components, poor ignition and combustion, excessive sedimentation and chemical contamination are undoubtedly becoming more common, even if they appear to have met the ISO 8217: 2005 specification, let alone the revised ISO 8217: 2010. There has also been an increase in bunkers with elevated levels of abrasive fines and a low flash point.
By comparison, distillate fuels have historically been regarded as relatively problem-free, but there is a lack of independent market research that confirms whether consistent performance from these types of fuels is possible.
Adapting to these ever-shifting sands and equipping your crew with the most up to date knowledge, monitoring tools and best practices is therefore critical to future-proofing your vessel, avoiding expensive errors and potential catastrophic damage. As bunker fuel quality varies and engine health risks rise, so the benefits of troubleshooting using online tools and technology can equate to millions of dollars in savings.

Careful handling and pre-treatment of the fuel can solve or alleviate most problems and the engineer should have good information to hand about each fuel on board (such as a compatibility or stability rating). Some problems will require the addition of fuel treatment chemicals, which can prove extremely cost effective, and regular testing allows for the timely application of lubricity additives and stability improvers, available from the larger marine suppliers. Enforcing best practice during the bunkering operation to ensure that a representative sample of the fuel is obtained to meet IMO MARPOL Annex VI is the first step, but underpinning all of this good practice is on board testing.

Onboard test equipment is advancing at a steady pace to meet the evolving needs of ship operators, and today’s microchip technology can deliver fast and accurate results, automatic self calibration, correction of measured results to standard reference conditions and estimation of derived parameters such as the calculated carbon aromaticity index (CCAI).

Onboard testing will provide very accurate results for water, density, viscosity, salt, compatibility, as well as stability, and results are available immediately and before the fuel has to be used. In the event of problems it is therefore possible to mitigate the eventual cost, a very good position in instances of legal actions and liability.

To back this up, onshore laboratory testing is a great ‘insurance policy’, although should not be solely relied upon, as it is a slow process that can take weeks – inadequate when you consider the time-critical wear and tear to engines that can occur. Kittiwake’s sampling services and onboard testing kits and those from the likes of FOBAS and DNV provide both test results and thorough analysis. Should problems arise, they are on hand to provide detailed technical support that is often beyond the capabilities of a hard-pressed marine superintendent.

Whilst the ease of use of onboard monitoring tools and securing the back up of onshore laboratory testing when needed presents little technical challenge for ship operators, to ensure that the benefits of using this technology are maximised, a shift in mindset is needed. Crew must be trained in regular maintenance processes and best practice to ensure that bunker sampling and fuel monitoring is at the forefront of minds and daily operational routine.

Protecting against “off spec” incidents and complying with emissions regulations should naturally be the minimum standard to adopt. Monitoring and fuel testing must now be seen as key to operational – as well as regulatory – success and the foundation for maintaining high performance standards, driving further efficiencies and maintaining competitive advantage.

* ‘Off-spec samples increase in Mediterranean and Black Sea region’, Bunkerworld, 4 March 2011

Martin Lucas, managing director, Kittiwake Developments

Motorship, April 2011

Kittiwake Appoints Offshore Industry Insider to Lead US Office

New US CEO and relocation to Houston deomonstrates focus on ‘core’ markets.

Kittiwake Developments is pleased to announce the appointment of Peter Pilon as CEO of the company’s US operations.

Pilon’s pedigree stems from 30 years with Hamworthy, giving him in-depth knowledge and experience of not only the US market, but also the marine and gas sectors. Latterly CEO of Hamworthy’s US division specialising in offshore activities, he was responsible for successfully introducing Riser Tensioning Systems and FPSO Cargo Systems to the marketplace, growing the company to a turnover of $27m over 15 years.

Kittiwake aims to achieve far deeper penetration into the marine market and is currently working on an innovative new approach to the provision of its products, concentrating on the US as one of the initial areas of focus. The company will also develop and cement its presence in the oil and gas sector with the introduction of a new range of application specific sensor solutions.

Martin Lucas, Managing Director, Kittiwake Developments commented:
“Peter’s appointment and the recalibration of the American offering demonstrates Kittiwake’s ongoing commitment to the US, marine and offshore markets. We have relocated our office from Atlanta to Houston and consolidated focus to core markets, ensuring that we continue to provide customers with market-leading asset protection solutions that directly impact the bottom line.”

In addition to Kittiwake’s growth trajectory since inception, Pilon said he has been impressed by the scale of the company’s R&D budget, which he says significantly outperforms any other company that he is familiar with. He also commends the team’s ‘can do’ attitude and immediate, entrepreneurial response to market opportunities that are so often missed by larger companies constrained by red tape.

Pilon concluded:
“Not only was I attracted to Kittiwake as a young and dynamic company that prioritises product research and development, but also to its product portfolio for marine and offshore applications, which resonates with my background and area of expertise. I’m looking forward to getting out into the marketplace and discussing the potential for these products with customers.”

Despite the challenging financial climate, Kittiwake Developments has achieved approaching 7% growth on last year and is currently exploring various expansion strategies, with further significant announcements anticipated before the end of 2010.

Media Enquiries:

Amie Pascoe
Blue Communications
Tel: +44 (0)7917 351187

Peter Pilon