A derivative of petroleum, fuel oil has historically had a wide variety of uses across multiple industries but the demand has dropped in recent years due to environmental concerns. The fuel oil market size is estimated to decline at a CAGR of 4.08 percent by 2020, and as the market size contracts, fuel oil analysis becomes more important to maximize the value of the fuel oil in supply. The demand for fuel oil has been decreasing at a steady rate while the supply continues to increase, resulting in the contraction of the overall fuel oil market.

Fuel oil generally refers to the heaviest commercial fuel that is procured from oil and is made of long chains of hydrocarbons. Health and environmental concerns over the use of fuel oil due to its high sulfur content have resulted in new policies and regulations regarding the use of fuel oil, decreasing its popularity. The costs associated with fuel oil use also deter the market, with the costs including the procurement of crude oil, the refinement process, distribution, labor costs, and other overhead expenses.

What Is Fuel Oil Analysis?

In the multi-step process of obtaining and transporting fuel oil, there is a high risk of contamination at each stage and the risk of contamination increases if the fuel oil is stored for long periods of time. Fuel oil analysis studies the concerned fuel sample to examine if there are any contaminants. The process and parameters of fuel oil analysis are typically based on the quality of the fuel oil, the time period since it was produced and the end-user segmentation so that accordingly, the risk factors to be tested can be identified.

The common risks of contamination to the fuel oil include microbial contamination from bacteria in storage units, chemical contamination, fuel degradation, and physical contaminants. The process of fuel analysis examines the level of particulates, sedimentation, density, viscosity, water content, ash content, and sulfur content. Other factors studied are the fiber estimation, the presence of heavy distillates, dissolved gas analysis, metal check, and accelerated stability test. Firms provide fuel oil analysis services independently and in combination, based on the desired usage of the fuel oil.

Benefits of Fuel Oil Analysis

There are multiple benefits of fuel oil analysis, which has led to its popularity, especially since the demand for fuel oil has decreased. Fuel oil has been used in industries such as electricity generation, agriculture, residential, marine bunkers, petrochemicals, roads, and domestic waterways, but the usage has dropped in recent years with an increase in cheaper and more environment-friendly options. The fall in demand results in a longer period of storage of fuel oil, increasing the risk of contamination which makes fuel oil analysis important.

Fuel oil is still used in machines, as a backup fuel for power plants, in vehicles and to heat homes, however, the use of contaminated or sub-par quality fuel oil risks damaging the machines. By conducting fuel oil analysis, the quality can be identified and if there is any contamination, the fuel oil can be treated before use. By avoiding the use of possibly contaminated fuel oil, companies save in operational costs, component wear and extend the life of their machines.

The demands for fuel oil may have decreased, but the supply is plenty due to which it is becoming a popular backup option for other fuels. To ensure that the use of fuel oil does not damage or compromise the machines involved, conducting a fuel oil analysis is beneficial to identify and possibly treat any contaminants in the fuel oil before using it. The type of fuel oil analysis employed depends on the quality, age, and end-use of the fuel.