Which Cylinder Oil is the Best Oil for my Engine?

March 12, 2015

Which Cylinder Oil is the Best Oil for my Engine?
Which Cylinder Oil is the Best Oil for my Engine?

Many ship owners are struggling to choose the right cylinder oil when looking at the available choice.

The selection does not necessarily get easier knowing that some marine oil producers like Shell is offering five different cylinder oils with different Base Numbers.

So, which is the right one for your engine.
The choice is not easy at all. It depends very much on the following facts:
> the type of engine is firing your vessel
> The type of fuel are you burning.
> which sulfur content is in the fuel
> Where are you operating the vessel:

– only in one of the ECAs or
– only for a limited time in one ECA or
– are you never operating in ECAs at all?

Let us start with the probably most easy scenario:
Your vessel is a minimum of 5 years old, never operates in any ECA and is burning Marine Fuel Oil up to 3.5 % sulfur.

The above scenario is valid for a large number of 2 stroke vessels operating in the Middle East region. It starts to be a bid more difficult when your vessel is calling for instance Rotterdam or Hamburg or any other port in one of the ECAs. While you are fine with e.g. Shell Alexia S4 outside the ECA (still talking about a vessel minimum 5 years old), you will bunker Fuel with max 0.1 % sulfur in the ECA to be compliant with the rules in place since 1st of January 2015.

When burning the 0.1 % sulfur fuel you would need to change the Cylinder Oil to a far lower Base Number.

The problem starts when you are bunkering in the ECAs MGO with less than 0.1 % sulfur. You better check with your OEM and with your lubricants supplier what to do when you are bunkering products with less than 0.1% sulfur.

Another scenario is that your vessel operates with one of the newer generation 2 stroke engines, e.g. Wartsila Tier II or MDT with Mark 8 and above. Lower Mark numbers are sometimes sensitive especially when it comes to Ultra Slow Steaming. In this case the OEMs are recommending cylinder oil with a higher Base Number. The recommended Base Number is between 80 and 100. For illustration purposes one should use e.g. Alexia S5 and S6.
Please check with your Engine Manufacturer, which is the recommended Base Number for high sulfur Fuel Oil (up to 3.5 %).

If you are operating with your vessel in one of the ECAs, you would need to switch your Cylinder Oil from a high Base Number to a lower one.
We would like to recommend that you speak with your lubricants supplier and check with them what is the best solution for your “modus operandi”. If you meet or communicate with your lubricant supplier know:

> Maker & Type of engine
> Type of fuel you are burning
> Region you are operating
> Lubricant you have on board now
> How many tanks you have on board
> Are you conducting regular used Oil analysis?

The last point is very important, used Oil Analysis. The OEMs are recommending piston underside drain analysis to get a better understanding how the lubrication is doing and what needs to be done to improve in case of too low remaining BN and other issues measured in the sampling process.

Know your vessel and features and your professional and authorized marine oil supplier will guide you towards the correct lubricant.

Hamburg Trading House is an authorized Shell Marine lubricants distributor in the UAE. In addition to Shell Marine Products, they are representing Tribomar in the United Arab Emirates for their Oil Management Systems and Tribomar Test Equipment. Hamburg Trading House is focusing on Marine business only offering its customers outstanding services at competitive prices.