We are pleased to see more attention being paid to the issue of tank cleaning in the run-up to the IMO global sulphur cap. After all, it’s little more than 18 months away (depending on when you get round to reading this!) and the cleaning of tanks to prevent contamination will be of vital importance in the latter part of 2019. Recent comments by industry experts have been following our recommendations over the past few weeks on this subject. Tank cleaning is vital to eliminate the high risk of undetected remnants of non-compliant fuels still in tanks when the switch to a lower sulphur fuel takes place. This exercise should not be underestimated: even the smallest amount of high sulphur fuel in a freshly cleaned tank will be enough to contaminate a tank when filled with new fuel but more importantly, you will find you are no longer in compliance.
There are other issues to be concerned about: fuel stability has caught the attention over the past few months with cat fines, asphaltenes and blends all part of the list of problems spoken about in the run-up to January 1 2020. Many of these issues require careful planning and that is absolutely the case with tank cleaning. It would be fair comment to say that many ship owners are still unaware of the damage and related problems of fuel contamination. It can have effects more than related simply to the operation of the engines. What could be on the horizon post 2020 is open to speculation but it might be fuel monitoring and the penalties for non-compliance, for whatever reason, could be very costly.
We have been one of the siren voices saying that the lack of information about new fuel availability and where it will be bunkered is still something of a shot in the dark. Confusion is an enemy and with a containership on the horizon nobody wants to run out of compliant fuel with a 1,000 nautical miles to go!