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Is shipping storing up catastrophe?

Wed 14 Jun 2017 by Paul Fanning

Is shipping storing up catastrophe?

Paul Fanning asks whether data showing issues relating to engine maintenance speak of a wider malaise

Recently, ExxonMobil released a report based on its in-depth analysis of more than 400,000 oil samples that would have made sobering reading for any shipowner

The analysis demonstrated a growing issue with cat fines and, with 43 per cent of vessels shown to have an issue in this area and to be at risk of catastrophic engine failure as a result. 15 per cent were shown to be at risk of cold corrosion, 9 per cent saw high levels of iron in scrape down oil, which is indicative of engine wear, while 25 per cent were experiencing water washing problems.

This report brings together a number of themes that are key to the market at the moment. One is the threat currently posed to engines by both new fuels and incorrect lubrication. One more is the problem caused by a lack of skills and expertise among crews who are either lubricating incorrectly or failing to use filtration systems. And another is the way in which data such as this can now be used to identify problems before they occur.

However, another analysis of these figures is that they present worrying snapshot of the industry as a whole. Perhaps what we see here is an industry beset by the competing demands of regulation and a very tough market, where the need to save money means that crucial skills are being lost, corners being cut and mistakes are being made that could prove extremely costly in the longer term.

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