Keeping up with the latest ISO 8217 specifications
The ISO 8217 specifications for marine fuels are constantly evolving. In the last 12 years we have had 4 different editions each with minor improvements to the previous version. In this article we discuss the changes in ISO 8217:2017, suppliers willingness to switch and why it’s important for the industry to adapt.
Links to the last 3 editions are available below:
ISO 8217:2017 – what’s different?
Fatty Acid Methyl Esters [FAME]
Three new grades of distillate fuel have been added, all starting with the letters ‘DF’ which stand for ‘Distillate FAME’: DFA, DFZ and DFB.
These all allow up to 7% FAME content (measured by volume, not weight). Additionally, the traditional grades (DMA, DMZ, DFB and all the RM grades) have increased their “de minimis” level from 0.1% to 0.5%. This is a fancy way of saying that almost no FAME is allowed in those grades, but the limit is slightly higher.
The new DF grade limit of 7% FAME makes them more in line with traditional road diesel, so suppliers in uncommon ports will have an easier time sourcing the product.
In ISO 8217:2012, the DMA and DMZ Winter Grade specifications have a maximum pour point limit of -6°C. There is no Cloud Point or Cloud Filter Plugging Point [CFPP] specified.
This meant that suppliers started delivering fuels with Cloud Point and CFPP temperatures that were too high, but adding in a ‘Pour Point depressant’ so that the fuel’s pour point reached -6°C. As a result many vessels found the fuel to be cloudy and it started to plug the filter in cold temperatures.
To get around this, ISO 8217:2017 makes it a requirement for suppliers to report the Cloud Point and CFPP for Winter Grade DMA and DMZ. No limit is specified, but the buyer will at least know their risks of waxy fuel or filter clogging.
If a supplier does not want to supply basis ISO 8217:2017, our brokers advise to request the Cloud Point and CFPP specs regardless, especially if you are sailing into cold waters.
This has never been an issue for RM grades as the fuel needs to be heated in cold temperatures anyway (hence Pour Point is the only parameter required).
All the distillate grades apart from DMX have seen a decrease in the maximum sulphur limit by 0.5%. This means:
- DMA and DMZ (and the new DFA and DFZ grades) now have a limit of 1.0% (previously 1.5%).
- DMB (and DFB) now has a limit of 1.5% (previously 2.0%).
In practice this should have little impact as most distillate marine fuels have less than 0.1% sulphur to comply with inland use.
The RM grades are again “as per statutory requirements”. See our article on ‘What is the sulphur limit for bunker fuel?’ for further guidance.
There are some other minor changes to the Scope and Annex of the new specification but the above sections cover the main points.
From our experience, suppliers are slow to adapt to the latest specifications. Many still supply ISO 8217:2005 even though there have been 3 subsequent editions. Over 99% of ISO 8217:2005 deliveries actually comply with ISO:8217 2010 standards but are still officially sold under 2005 specifications.
Although the changes are minor, suppliers need to convince their suppliers (often traders or refineries) to adhere to the new parameters otherwise they can be caught out in the middle.
The industry is slow to adopt new changes. This is fine – as long as buyers know what fuel is needed and which parameters are vital to check for their vessel. Our brokers at BunkerEx are always on hand to help you pick the right fuel and avoid any unnecessary claims.