The Right Shell Cylinder Oil

October 1, 2015

The recent information from MAN and Wartsila on what is the right BN for Cylinder oil for the different type of engines and the different sulphur content in the fuel have changed the Cylinder Oil offer in the Shell Marine Portfolio.

Shell Marine offered until 30th September the following Cylinder Oils:

  • Alexia S3
  • Alexia S4
  • Alexia 50
  • Alexia S5
  • Alexia S6

Since the 1st October 2015 the following products are available:

  • Alexia S3 with a BN of 25
  • Alexia S4 with a BN of 60, but only on special request. Otherwise replaced by Alexia 50
  • Alexia 50 with a BN of 70
  • Alexia S6 with a BN of 100

The Alexia S5 with a BN of 80 has been removed because this product can be replaced by either Alexia 50 or Alexia S6

It is probably impossible to establish one “golden rule” for all engines and any type of fuel. But the below chart gives us some guidance on which Cylinder Oil can be used for which engine and fuel.

The key thing is the type of main engines whether it is Mark 8 and above and the sulphur content of the fuel being used.

For older engines (Mark 7 & earlier), with no retrofits for part load operations.

Sulphur Content Shell Grades
less than 0.5% Alexia S3
0.5-1.5% Alexia S4/Alexia 50
1.5% and above Alexia 50

For new engines (Mark 8 and above) and older engines (Mark 7 & earlier), with retrofits for part load operations.

Sulphur Content Shell Grades
less than 0.5% Alexia S3
0.5-1.5% Alexia S4/Alexia S6
1.5% and above Alexia S6

In these days it is important that your supplier has the necessary knowledge and technical support from the Oil Majors and the OEMs.

Only then you can be sure that you are purchasing and consuming the right cylinder oil.

In addition it would also be possible with the support of your supplier to optimize the cylinder oil consumption. Not all engines are the same. There are so many variations even within the same engine family that it would be advisable to look for the right cylinder oil case by case.

Worldwide we estimate an annual consumption of approx.. 300 Million T of fuel oil. The average sulphur content is 2.5 %.

Some 92 % of the fuel oil has a sulphur content between 1.5 and 3.5 %.

Some 3 % has a sulphur content between 0.5 and 1.5 %.

And 5 % but growing has a sulphur content up to 0.1 %

The fuel sulphur content is very important on the decision making process for the right cylinder oil. Since the sulphur content is varying ( depending where your vessel is bunkering ) you may also adjust the feed rate of your cylinder oil.

One example :

You may use Alexia S6 with a BN of 100 and a feed rate of xxx. With the support of your supplier you should be able to reduce the feed rate to xxx.   The Shell Oil Condition Monitoring/Sweep Test will support you to optimize the feed rate and to reach the “ Safe Operating Are”  (which would be a remaining BN between 15-45 vs. the iron content). The moment the Iron goes up and the BN down, you would have reached “the point” where the feed rate is fine or even needs a little increase.

All this again may change with the sulphur content of your fuel.  And this again is depending on the area of operation of the vessel. (different fuels in different regions)

So there is no “golden rule” for all the different vessels with different engines and different fuels.That is why it is even more important to have a competent partner as your supplier who can help you to achieve the optimum on the cylinder oil consumption and wear.

Shell for instance has more than 6,000 Cylinder Liner in their RLA System. (Rapid Lubricants Analysis)

More than 200,000 samples per annum are feeding this huge data base with information from any type of vessel, fuel and engine. This is helping the Team of experts to give “real life”  advice to our customers.


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.