Update on contaminated fuel from St Petersburg following the discovery of Carbon Tetrachloride

FOBAS confirms the presence of Carbon Tetrachloride in the contaminated fuel
FOBAS confirms the presence of Carbon Tetrachloride in the contaminated fuel

Following a late June alert regarding contaminated bunkers that were supplied in St Petersburg, Russia, the Lloyd’s Register Fuel Oil Bunkering Analysis and Advisory Service (FOBAS) has published an update on 12 July, in which it confirms the presence of Carbon Tetrachloride in the contaminated fuel.

On 26 June, FOBAS issued an alert to say it was investigating a number of samples bunkered in St Petersburg, Russia, taken from mid-April to the beginning of May. During the use of these fuels, vessels reported a range of, including damage to plungers and M/E and A/E filter damage.

Investigation showed that the operational problems resulted from damage to fuel injection equipment of main and auxiliary engines, as well as filter damage. A more thorough analysis showed that all fuels contained significant concentrations of Carbon Tetrachloride.

Concentrations of this chemical ranged from 1,400 – 4,500ppm and at these levels it is likely to be a key contributor to the engine damage. Further analysis revealed that at relatively low temperatures (as low as 50°C), the Carbon Tetrachloride can degrade forming Hydrochloric Acid in the process. Hydrochloric acid is a strong inorganic acid which will have a corrosive effect on metallic components that it comes in to contact with. Furthermore, it is a serious health and safety concern for vessel crew should they come in to contact with the oil, FOBAS warned.

It is possible that some vessels have a quantity of this contaminated fuel onboard without even realising it. If so, the contaminated fuel should be handled with extreme care and further investigative analysis is recommended to ascertain the presence and concentration of any of these harmful components in the fuel.

If a ship is known to have bunkered from this port around this time, it is recommended that fuel system components are checked for their performance and any signs of damage followed by appropriate corrective maintenance action it taken as required.

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