Heavy Fuel in the Arctic

shutterstock 28206610The AMSA Report was approved by the Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council in April 2009 in Tromsø, Norway. Recommendation I (B), in the AMSA report states: “That the Arctic states, in recognition of the unique environmental and navigational conditions in the Arctic, decide to cooperatively support efforts at the International Maritime Organization to strengthen, harmonize and regularly update international standards for vessels operating in the Arctic. These efforts include: --Support the updating and mandatory application of relevant parts of the Guidelines for Ships Operating in Arctic Ice-covered Waters (Arctic Guidelines); and, -- Drawing from IMO instruments, in particular the Arctic Guidelines, augment global IMO ship safety and pollution prevention conventions with specific mandatory requirements or other provisions for ship construction, design, equipment, crewing, training and operations, aimed at safety and protection of the Arctic environment.”

Resulting from this recommendation, the PAME members at the PAME-I 2010 meeting in Copenhagen agreed to undertake Phase I of a project concerning Heavy Fuel oil in the Arctic, to:
 - identify and compile existing information on actual use or carriage of HFO by vessels in the Arctic (including an assessment of current and forecast HFO use and carriage within the Arctic marine transportation system);
 - identify and compile existing information on the risks of spills related to such use or carriage;
 - identify and compile information on the risks and potential effects on the Arctic marine and coastal environment from spills of HFO from ships;
 - and summarize the status of existing risk mitigation strategies and international regulations to reduce the identified risks and potential effects.

The objective of project was to summarize the current traffic in the Arctic region as well as identifying the propor tion of this traffic operating on HFO. DNV was asked to carry out the work accordingly and Heavy Fuel in the Arctic (Phase I) report was released in January 2011. This work was followed by two additional reports, Heavy Fuel in the Arctic, Phase II and Phase IIb reports which were released in March 2014. The final report was released in 2016.



Phase I HFO project AMSA rec IB-Final report

Heavy Fuel in the Arctic (Phase I) - Report


The objective of the project as stated by PAME has been to prepare a report which summarizes the current traffic in the Arctic region as well as identifying the proportion of this traffic operating on HFO. In addition the risks related to the use and carriage of HFO in the Arctic is discussed and which mitigation strategies are available. Finally the status of international regulations regarding the use of HFO is discussed.

In the study DNV has applied satellite based AIS (Automatic Identification System) data made available from the Norwegian Coastal Administration from August through November 2010, for describing the traffic pattern. Fuel sample data from DNV Petroleum Services (DNVPS) have been applied in order to identify vessels and vessel types likely to use HFO, in addition to identify Arctic ports where HFO bunkering operations occur. Finally, ship data from the DNV ship data base as used to fill inn with machinery details necessary for carrying out the study.

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   HFO in the Arctic Phase II final report by DNV signedHeavy Fuel in the Arctic (Phase II) - Report


The study is a direct follow-up to the Phase 1 study on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic (DNV, 2011). The Phase 1 study was the first to assess the maritime traffic in the Arctic using satellite based Automatic Identification System (AIS) data. Due to the short period of operation of the satellite, only four months of data was available for this study. It was therefore agreed to undertake a phase-2 of the study, this time with a full year of ship traffic data available.

Based on data for 2012, the study addresses the following issues: 
 Describe a full year (2012) of maritime traffic based on satellite AIS recordings in the Arctic region, including vessel composition (type and size), geographical distribution, sailed distances andoperating hours throughout the year. 
 Modelling of fuel consumption and emission to air 
 Identification of vessels operating on HFO and the carriage of oil cargo 
 Hazard identification and a high-level risk analysis of frequencies of incidents leading to oil spill and the consequent likely oil spill (HFO, distillate fuel and oil cargo) 
 Assessment of risk control options. 
 A qualitative discussion on the expected traffic development in the Arctic region 
 A regulatory gap analysis looking in to the regulatory regime for the use and carriage of HFO in the Arctic.

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HFO in the Arctic Phase IIb final report by DNV signed   Heavy Fuel in the Arctic (Phase IIb) - Report


More than twice as many vessels are recorded in the Bering Sea compared to the areas included in the Arctic definition as used in the HFO-2 report. In addition, the sailed distance is significantly higher whereas the operational hours are slightly less.

The vessels demographics is also very different from what was identified in the HFO-2 report. The traffic in the Bering Sea is very much dominated by the intercontinental shipping routes following the great circle between the north-west coast of the USA and Canada and East Asia. This sailing route predominantly comprises large bulk carriers and container vessels, but also a few ro-ro and general cargo vessels, all of which are operating on HFO. This is exemplified by 84% of the vessels in the Bering Sea are identified as HFO users whereas 28% were found to use HFO in the HFO-2 report.

The sailed distance, the size of vessels and the speed of which they operate makes this group responsible for close to 90% of the calculated total fuel consumption throughout the year and subsequently an even higher portion of the combined emissions to air.

Arctic ship traffic is generally identified by huge variations in operational hours and sailed distances throughout the year. However, the dominating intercontinental great circle traffic not affected by sea-ice and is relatively unaffected by the seasonal variations. Hence, only small variations are apparent from the available data material.

In the HFO-2 report, groundings, and groundings of tankers in particular, was identified as the potential main source of accidental oil spill to the sea. Again, the dominating influence of the transcontinental traffic through the Aleuts significantly changes this picture. The grounding risk associated with this transport route is concentrated at the passage through the chain of islands at one end. The remaining part of the great circle route is far from shore and hence no grounding risk is associated with this stretch. The fire/explosion risk and hull/machinery risk is however only related to the sailed distance and hence these risk modes will be relatively more dominant than what is calculated in the HFO-2 report.

In general, an incident leading to oil spill is likely to happen every second year within the Bering Sea.

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Screen Shot 2016 11 21 at 14.40.43HFO Phase III(a) - Heavy Fuel Oil releases from Shipping in the Arctic

With increased vessel traffic in the Arctic and near-Arctic comes an increased risk of incidents, including those that involve oil spills and releases. This paper examines shipping incidents involving releases of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) and other fuels in the Arctic and near-Arctic marine environment.  Part I continues by defining the paper’s scope and explaining what HFO is. Part II identifies shipping incidents in the region involving HFO and other oil releases and any resulting reported liability of relevant parties.  The effect of HFO releases on the marine environment is described in Part III.

Shipping incidents involving a release of HFO into the marine environment above the 55th parallel north are this Paper’s main focus.   The areas under consideration are the Arctic and near-Arctic.  For the Arctic, an important “geographical limit and a defining line is the Arctic Circle (66 degrees 33 minutes north).”   The near-Arctic’s latitudinal boundary, for our purposes, extends to 55 degrees north.  Environmental conditions in the Arctic and near-Arctic are often extreme and similar.


HFO Phase III(b) - Possible hazards for engines and fuels systems using heavy fuel oil in cold climates

Screen Shot 2016 11 16 at 15.19.48This study was carried out by Rambøll and MARINTEK on behalf of The Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment Working Group (PAME). The purpose of the study was to investigate possible hazards for engines and fuel systems using heavy fuel oil in cold climate.

One main aim of the project was to reveal whether ships that utilize heavy fuel oil in the Arctic will be overrepresented with respect to engine or fuel system failures, relative to comparable ships that utilize other fuel types. 

The study address a general description of heavy fuel oil (HFO) based on general information from published sources. HFO characteristics and operational challenges related to HFO operation of ships are explained, and potential known risk factors related to HFO operation are discussed. Three main risk factors related to the fuel system have been identified which may cause engine failure or engine stop; Risks related to disruption of fuel supply; Risks related to fuel quality and Risks related to fuel switchover.

User experience with HFO operation has been collected from various sources such as insurance statistics, incident reports to US authorities, user interviews and coastal monitoring in Norwegian waters. Collected data were analysed to reveal any potential increased risk factors related to operation in cold climate.

Click here to download the report.