Hyundai Oilbank ready for production of very low sulfur fuel oil for ships

By Lim Chang-won Posted : November 29, 2019, 11:07 Updated : November 29, 2019, 11:07

[Courtesy of Hyundai Oilbank]

SEOUL -- To cope with new rules imposed by a U.N. maritime safety agency, Hyundai Oilbank, a refinery arm of South Korea's Hyundai shipbuilding group, has successfully tested the test operation of facilities to produce very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) by using new technologies to completely eliminate asphaltenes which reduce the fuel efficiency of ship by clogging filters and pipes.

Asphaltenes are molecular substances found in crude oil and consist primarily of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur. Under new rules imposed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the amount of sulfur emanating from ships should be reduced from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent from January 1, 2020. Conventional heavy fuel oil contains 3.5 percent sulfur, meaning ship owners must either buy expensive low sulfur fuel or install an exhaust gas cleaning system.

"We have continuously developed core source technologies in preparation for strengthened environmental regulations," a Hyundai Oilbank said. "We will actively respond to changes in the market by securing a large amount of supplies for long-term contracts for very low sulfur fuel oil for ships through our advanced technology."

By combining various oils extensively, Hyundai Oilbank can actively and flexibly cope with rising demands for ultra-low sulfur oil. The refiner has also minimized investment costs by utilizing existing facilities and can choose between existing modes and VLSFO production modes in line with market demand.

With rising fuel prices and increasing pressure to make ships greener, shipping companies are now implementing promising technologies that can reduce the levels of sulfur oxides (SOx) and save fuel at the same time.

SOx can cause premature mortality, heart attack, lung disease, asthma and other respiratory symptoms. Ships can reduce the levels of SOx emissions by installing an exhaust gas cleaning system such as SOx scrubbers. The scrubber technology works by passing the dirty exhaust gas stream created by the engine through chambers that contain a carefully generated "scrubbing cloud" of water. But scrubbers and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) units increase the cost of both building and operating ships.
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