Smart procurement can ease the transition to a low sulphur future

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The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 0.50 per cent global sulphur cap is reshaping the fuels landscape and altering lubricant requirements. These changes could have far-reaching financial impacts, so procurement professionals must fully understand the ramifications of their fuel selections.

ExxonMobil estimates that close to 90 per cent of vessels will choose a compliant, low-sulphur fuel. If this is the preferred route, operators will almost certainly encounter fuel quality issues, including problems with stability and cat fines. These can result in costly remedial work, so it is more important than ever to be diligent in compatibility testing, handling and storage practices.

Low sulphur fuels are not the only route to compliance; fitting a scrubber and continuing to burn HSFO is another option. With the market predominantly choosing 0.50 per cent sulphur fuels, logistics dedicated to HSFO will become scarce. Bunkering HSFO without prior planning may therefore not be possible at many ports. To maximise return on investment on a scrubber, a contractual agreement for HSFO is essential.

Lubricant insights

Changing emission regulations are also creating engine oil challenges. Selecting the right lubricants to cope with the changing fuel mix and evolving engine designs is crucial for maintaining efficient engine operations, minimising costly maintenance-related issues and optimising lubricant usage. ExxonMobil will have a full range of cylinder oils at all main ports ahead of the 2020 implementation of the IMO regulation.

Knowing how an engine oil is performing is the next step. That’s why ExxonMobil has launched Mobil ServSM Cylinder Condition Monitoring, which is taking scrape down oil analysis to the next level. By harnessing the latest in big data analysis, it delivers actionable insights within moments of testing. Onboard engineers can rapidly react to the findings, taking steps to help reduce costly component damage and downtime, and optimising lubricant usage in the process.

Value-added relationships

The maritime industry is facing tough economic conditions, and complexities arising from emission regulations add to the problem. More than ever, ensuring a collaborative approach, from engineer to procurement, is crucial. Working with a supplier that has a track record of delivering fully integrated marine industry solutions can help vessel operators meet these challenges.