LATEST UPDATE: The Grangemouth refinery that supplies the fuel has confirmed it will reduce the additive believed to have caused the problems.
Petroineos said today (Friday) it is reducing the volume of FAME blended into diesel and gasoil leaving the plant from 7% to 5% with immediate effect.
The company said that while it was confident that its products met or exceeded the necessary specification, it also recognised the need for action. It said it had allocated “significant resource” to tackle the problem.
“Our investigations have been extensive and are ongoing into what is a complex process with a large number of variables. At this stage, we remain unable to identify any specific root cause within our manufacturing or FAME blending process and we remain confident that Diesel and GasOil dispatched from Grangemouth Refinery meets or exceeds the applicable specification.”
The statement went on: “However, we recognise the need for action to ensure that end-users do not experience further unnecessary operational issues. Accordingly, Petroineos has, effective 29/11/2019, reduced the volume of FAME blended into our GasOil and Diesel at the refinery.
“We remain entirely focused on providing quality fuel to the markets we serve and will continue to liaise closely with our customers, representatives of the broader end-user community, trade associations and government to resolve this significant industry issue for the longer term. We are monitoring the effectiveness of the changes we are making and will communicate this as we progress.”
The SPOA commented: “All members and indeed the wider industry are reminded to continue submitting information (see below) regarding issues to us, research and evidence will be critical in solving these issues long term. A wealth of work is still to be done.”
UPDATE: The Scottish Plant Owners’ Association has called for an investigation into what it describes as the “disaster” over fuel quality.
It has asked member companies to submit evidence of failures and is working in concert with the National Farmers Union to assess the financial impact on individual companies and to seek a long-term solution.
SPOA vice-president Callum Mackintosh has written to machine manufacturers and their dealers seeking confirmation on their position on fuel additives, asking specifically for biodiesel use requirements and recommendations. “This will clarify the acceptance of additives and eliminate any dubiety around the subject.”
Members are asked to send full information about failures and to submit images where possible. A form to submit evidence can be found here…
By Mike Travers
Plant owners across the country are struggling to cope with machine breakdowns caused by fuel problems.
The Scottish Plant Owners’ Association (SPOA) said it has been inundated by complaints from member companies and social media has been flooded by firms reporting blocked fuel filters and damage to engine components.
An SPOA spokesman commented: “Over this last month there has been a huge volume of cases across Scotland and indeed the entire United Kingdom where plant and machinery has suffered blocked fuel filters, damaged injectors or common rail systems. Exacerbated by the temperature drop there has even been reports of some filters only lasting 100hrs before needing changed!”
A meeting was held last week between industry representatives including the SPOA and Petroineos, the Grangemouth refinery and trading business, in an attempt to identify the source of the problem. Petroineos confirmed fuel produced at the Grangemouth complex is to specification and to BSI standards.
It’s understood the root cause is new UK government regulations that demand a higher percentage of biofuel in diesel and gas oil, achieved by adding up to 7% fatty acid methyl ester – known as FAME. It is produced by vegetable oil, used cooking oil and animal fats.
That has led to machine downtime through shorter fuel shelf-life and an increase in water content causing filter and fuel line blockages. Other reported problems include the biofuel and crude-derived fuel separating in tanks, and issues with injectors.
Recommendations to counteract the increase in FAME content include ensuring bunded fuel stores and bowsers have inline filters and separators and changing the filter every 3-4 deliveries.
For more information and advice from the SPOA click here…
The RHA in Livingston has issued this advice note to members:
“ We have been contacted by the NFU who have alerted us to an issue they and their members are facing regarding fuel quality. They suspect the biofuel element is causing problems with the filters and having a particularly negative effect when the temperature dips below freezing.
“They have asked for our support as suppliers are rapidly running out of fuel filters and sub zero temperatures are likely to be round the corner. The NFU plan to approach government about this but before offering them support we want to find out how much it of an issue it is for members. If we go to Govt then we need to go with evidence.”
The RHA can be contacted at 01506 414073
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©Scottish Plant. Article posted 23/11/2019, Updated 26/11/2019, Updated 28/11/2019, Updated 29/11/2019