Importance of Bunker Fuel Sampling

Testing bunker fuel, the fuel oil used by ocean going ships or the tanks they’re stored in, is vital when it comes to bunkering processes. Marine fuel deliveries are measured by volume but paid for by mass, so testing allows ship owners to measure density and water content to calculate the mass of fuel delivered, ensuring the fuel is within the required specification under ISO 8217. Bunker fuel samples are also maintained for port state inspection under MARPOL 73/78 Annex VI, the regulation for the prevention of air pollution from ships.

Traditionally bunker fuel testing has been done off-site, with fuel samples being transported to a laboratory for testing. Whilst this practice remains still widely in place, on-site sampling can now be carried out in some circumstances.

Parker Kittiwake provide a number of tools to help with bunker fuel testing. Here we’ve listed three of our key tools used for bunker fuel testing:

Bunker fuel density
It is essential to measure density due to the way fuel is supplied. The fuel is delivered from a bunker barge and the volume of the transfer is measured, often by a meter. But the mass is directly proportional to the power that can be gained from using the fuel, so an accurate density calculation has a direct financial value. An on-site marine fuel density meter, such as the one from Parker Kittiwake, will accurately convert fuel volume to density – verifying that the correct grade of fuel has been delivered under ISO 8217. The meter can also estimate the combustion performance (CCAI) and correct viscosity in cP to cSt.

Bunker fuel oil viscosity
Testing the viscosity of fuel oil is important for several reasons, not only does it allow ship owners to verify that the correct grade of fuel has been delivered but there are also several benefits when it comes to the handling of the oil. Testing allows for the combustion performance to be calculated and determines the temperature at which the fuel should be handled. The Parker Kittiwake Heated Viscometer tests the viscosity of both residual fuel and  lube oil from a wide variety of applications, including diesel engines, gas and aviation turbines, gear boxes, hydraulics and marine fuels.

Water testing
The ISO 8217:2010 states that the amount of water found in fuel oil should not exceed 0.5% for residual fuels, and whilst most fuels contain less than 0.2%, water contamination can happen. Water contamination can occur from a number of sources, including leakage from oil coolers, condensation of atmospheric humidity and leakage at tank tents, to name a few. Water contamination within lubricating / lube oil storage tanks can lead to microbiological growth, forming yeast, mould and bacteria that will clog filters and very rapidly corrode fuel systems. The DIGI Water in Oil test kit has been used by thousands of ship operators over the last 20 years to check for both water in oil and BN depending upon the specification ordered.

Marine Fuel Oil Compatibility
Fuel oil compatibility testing tests the tendency of fuels to produce deposits when mixed. Our compatibility tester is a useful tool to quickly establish whether a fuel delivery will remain stable in the bunker tanks without excessive asphaltene drop-out, identify any problems in the stability of the blended fuels and help to prevent sludge deposits.

For further information contact us on:
Tel: +44 1903 731470