Sunday, October 1, 2023
Maritime Propulsion

July 12, 2023

Bunker Fuel Contamination Hits US Gulf Coast

© Irina Starikova / Adobe Stock

Contaminated marine fuels from several suppliers led to fouled engines on about a dozen vessels operating from the U.S. Gulf Coast this spring, according to Lloyd's Register and marine fuel testing service VPS.

The tainted fuel was the first major occurrence along the U.S. Gulf Coast since 2018, when about 200 ships had engines fouled by fuel containing an epoxy, said Steve Bee, group commercial and business development director at VPS.

The testing firm found "significantly high levels" of the chemical dicyclopentadiene and related compounds in tests of low sulfur bunker fuel deliveries in Houston made between March and May, VPS said.

Eleven vessels have lost power and propulsion at sea, the company said, pointing to a customer report of failed fuel pump and fuel injectors.

Lloyd's Register cited other tests that in addition to dicyclopentadiene showed between 1% and 2% of blend components "that are not a natural part of the usual refinery stream process" and appeared to be various chemical waste products.

The 2018 Gulf Coast contamination led to several lawsuits alleging millions of dollars in engine repairs and replacement fuel deliveries, according to lawsuits filed at the time.


(Reuters - Reporting by Gary McWilliams; additional reporting by Jeslyn Lerh; Editing by Bill Berkrot)