April 06, 2017

Marine Fuels Standards Get Update

Stratas Advisors

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A new edition of the widely used global marine fuel standard ISO 8217 has recently been published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The sixth edition of the standard was published in late March 2017, and is designated as ISO 8217:2017. It replaces the fifth edition, which was published in 2012.

The main changes relate only to distillate fuels. Three additional new distillate grades are introduced in parallel with the existing grades. The new grades are allowed to contain up to 7 vol% of biodiesel, but are otherwise identical to the corresponding established grades. There are no changes to the specifications for residual fuel oil grades.  

Some changes have been made to the “General Requirements” section of the standard, mainly to accommodate the introduction of biodiesel-containing blends. Finally, much of the material previously included in information-only annexes has been moved into the main body of the standard.

The new edition of ISO 8217 recognizes that in some markets (particularly where marine fuel storage and distribution facilities are shared with the inland market) marine distillates may contain significant amounts of biodiesel. In many countries, legislation on renewable energy obligations requires the addition of biodiesel to distillate fuels.

Furthermore, the introduction of the 0.10 wt% sulfur limit for marine fuels used in IMO-designated emission control areas in 2015, the 0.50 wt% sulfur limit in emission control zones in China in 2016, and the forthcoming global sulfur cap of 0.50 wt% in 2020 are likely to increase the use of biofuel components because of their inherently low sulfur content.

In response to these pressures, the new edition of ISO 8217 introduces three new grades that are permitted to contain up to 7 vol% of biodiesel (or more precisely, a maximum of 7 vol% of fatty acid methyl esters, or FAME).

Minor changes to maximum sulfur content have been made in the new edition. For DMA, DFA, DMZ and DFZ grades, the maximum sulfur content is now 1.00 wt%, or the statutory or buyer-specified limit if either of these is lower. The previous limits for DMA and DMZ were 1.50 wt% maximum. The DMB grade is now limited to 1.50 wt% sulfur (or statutory/buyer requirements), compared to 2.00 wt% previously.   

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