Marine engines – valuable but vulnerable assets

Castrol’s global technical services director Gianluca Marucci outlines how the International Maritime Organization’s 2020 sulphur cap will impact engine room operations

Marine engines – valuable but vulnerable assets
Shipowners will have to increase the intensity of engine room operations as a result of the new cap

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Marine engines are valuable – and vulnerable – assets. Costing millions of dollars, these pieces of hardware and their reliable and safe operation are the difference between profit and loss and the safe and unsafe operation of every vessel travelling the world’s oceans. The International Maritime Organisation’s impending 0.5% fuel sulphur content cap, which will come into force on 1 January 2020, has the potential to impact engine room operations significantly as a suite of new, compliant fuels become commonly used across the sector.

The safe implementation of the cap will require the intensity of engine room operations to increase after 1 January, with potential cost impacts for cruise and ferry operators. This increase will be driven by issues relating to fuel compatibility, including catalytic fines and contaminants, but may not arise until months after operators have started burning new fuels in an engine. Consequently, shipowners will be required to carry out more intense oil analysis and condition monitoring to identify and protect engine assets.

Shipowners and regulators are demanding more new attributes and qualities from engine fluids than ever before, which has made answering the question of lubricant choice considerably more difficult. When looking at the complex picture of engine health in context of the implementation of the 2020 sulphur cap, it’s clear that the industry can see the issues, but doesn’t understand the full picture. This presents a risk to the sector.

Shipowners must refocus their mindset to examining engines holistically to manage the implementation of the 2020 sulphur cap effectively, efficiently and, crucially for the cruise and ferry sector, safely.

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By Gianluca Marucci
02 December 2019

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