More diesel in ship fuel raises risk it may turn into sludge

Surplus oil products such as diesel are sneaking into ship fuel, after stockpiles swelled up as demand was hit by coronavirus crisis. This could turn ship fuel into sludge.

Photo: Colourbox / arkivfoto

The shipping sector is providing an outlet for surplus oil products such as diesel that have swelled due to a virus-driven demand hit, but questions about changing ship fuel quality are starting to raise concerns.

Diesel and straight-run kerosene, which is usually processed into jet fuel, are increasingly being used to make very low-sulfur fuel oil for ships, helping to alleviate a glut of middle distillates. Routine sampling of VLSFO is showing that some blends are becoming less viscous, or thinner, which may affect the stability of the fuel, according to testers and industry consultants.

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