Safety Risks Associated with the Use of Fuels Containing FAME, According to the Norwegian Maritime Authority

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The Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA) has issued a Marine Notice informing the marine industry about new sales requirements for advanced biofuels that came into effect on 1 October 2023. The requirement states that hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) or fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) must be added to marine fuels. The NMA advises ships bunkering fuel in Norway to be aware of the fuel’s quality and any challenges related to its use and storage. The fuel supplier should provide information about the fuel’s quality and ensure it meets the specifications of the end customer. The NMA does not recommend bunkering fuels with more than 7% FAME unless specific safety assessments and measures have been taken.

From 1 October 2023, suppliers of marine fuels must ensure that at least 6% of the total amount of fuels sold per year consists of advanced biofuel. This requirement does not apply to liquid fuel for ships engaged in international voyages or to biogas. The sales requirement is not a blend requirement, so the blend percentages may vary due to seasonal variations and biofuel availability. HVO, which is similar to fossil diesel, can be used without any adjustments to the fuel system. However, FAME has qualities that can be challenging if the concentration is too high, such as water susceptibility, changes in stability, low-temperature behavior, increased scaling, and changed lubricating characteristics. Ships are recommended to take precautions when using FAME, such as contacting engine suppliers and equipment suppliers, avoiding storage periods over six months, implementing a maintenance and monitoring program, considering low-temperature behavior in cold zones, and ensuring compatibility with high-concentration FAME biofuels.

Using a high-concentration FAME biofuel without taking necessary precautions can negatively impact engine performance and operational safety, potentially leading to blocked filters and nozzles and a halt in propulsion machinery.

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