Forensic Analysis

Maritec was involved in the PNI clubs’ investigation on the problem bunkers taken in the US Gulf, Panama and Dutch Antilles; that were reported to have caused sludging and fuel pump damages to more than 100 ships in the ‘Houston Problem’. Subsequently, problem bunkers has started to surface in Asia.

All the fuel samples tested fully met the ISO 8217 specifications but the vessels reported fuel injection pumps seizures or sticking. In several cases all fuel pumps were badly damaged and had to be replaced. Additional forensic testing by Maritec Research Department using FTIR/GCMS instrumentation and techniques detected the presence of various chemical components not derived from the refining of crude oils.

The list of compounds is extensive and may be too technical for a layperson so we will only mention in general the type of chemical compounds. The contaminants detected in the problem Houston fuels included esters, benzenediols, amines, phenolic compounds and their variants which are compounds not derived from the refining of crude oils. Many of the problem Houston samples also had chemical compounds common to mined Estonian and Fushun shale oils.

Maritec has also done FTIR/GCMS investigations on about >50 samples from other ports where Estonian type of oil shales which are produced from crushed ores was detected. The vessels reported severe sludging but fuel injection equipment damages was not an issue that was raised.


Maritec R&D Lab have the expertise to support your investigation on bunker related engine problems with the following Forensic Analysis :