Cylinder Oil makers offer choice and debate the ideal solution

The recent Marine Propulsion Conference in London was a great success however the highlight was the panel debate at the end of the first day where five marine lubricant companies were sharing the platform.

Billed as a “must see” by the organisers, I had rather expected that the spin was simply to keep us out of the bar on what had been a long but nevertheless interesting day, how wrong I was.

Normally, oil companies behave like classification societies by collectively agreeing to the technical standard but hinting at differentiation to create a position where no shadow falls upon them.

We started with a general acceptance of management and drain oil monitoring as a minimum requirement for large 2-stroke marine cylinder oils in order to facilitate some asset specific local intelligence on which to fine tune the daily optimisation, which was expected, but at either ends of the rostrum confusion was loaded in to the breach and fired into the unexpectant crowd.

Put simply, forget what you think you know about the right way to select and manage your CLO and start again.

1/The Market lead approach –

TOTAL Talusia (SAE 50 , 57 BN)-

They say – In short – fit and forget! New chemistry, better deployment of neutralisation equates to less ash forming materials, meaning that the oil can be used on fuels from 0.5 – 4% Sulphur. Meaning – if you sail in or out of ECA simply trim your feed rate according to the engine manufacturers guidance regarding fuel Sulphur content. End of!

or maybe not!

2/An alternative perspective.

Castrol Marine have been talking to the refineries and fuel blenders and have a compelling alternative story. Refiners have not developed additional capacity for low sulphur fuels nor have they changed the process so they still produce the same range of fuels now as they always have.

Due to the way HFO is refined(!), bought, blended and sold, the current average sulphur content for any given bunker is normally in the region of 2- 2.5%. However as you can now only legally purchase fuel up to 3.5% following the MARPOL  3.5% Sulphur cap, fuel with naturally high sulphur content has had to be blended with lower sulphur fuels to meet the specifications and retain a commercial business.  This has the counter intuitive effect of actually maintaining the “total Sulphur”in marine fuel exactly where it was before the reduction came into force, but raising the average sulphur content in deliveries from 2.5 – 3.0 to 3.0 – 3.5%!


Castrol Marine are of the belief that the solution is to actually select a higher 80BN product such as their CYTECH 80 – that can handle higher general sulphur fuels and with slow steaming where cold corrosion is a problem or for short excursions in to ECA, trimming feed rate and speed accordingly will also achieve the desired results.


As always the guidance remains – Understand and describe your operational requirements for each ship to your contracted oil supplier and let them advise you accordingly.

For complete control perform regular independent  drain oil analysis ensuring that the data is corrected for dilution effects and then use the results to add a feed back loop in the optimisation process.

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