Plant owners across the country are struggling to cope with machine breakdowns caused by fuel problems.
The Scottish Plant Owners' Association (SPOA) said it has been inundated by complaints from member companies and social media has been flooded by companies reporting blocked fuel filters and damage to engine components.
An SPOA spokesman commented: "Over this last month there has been a huge volume of cases across Scotland and indeed the entire United Kingdom where plant and machinery has suffered blocked fuel filters, damaged injectors or common rail systems. Exacerbated by the temperature drop there has even been reports of some filters only lasting 100hrs before needing changed!"
A meeting was held last week between industry representatives including the SPOA and Petroineos, the Grangemouth refinery and trading business, in an attempt to identify the source of the problem. Petroineos confirmed fuel produced at the Grangemouth complex is to specification and to BSI standards.
It's understood the root cause is new UK government regulations that demand a higher percentage of biofuel in diesel and gas oil, achieved by adding up to 7% fatty acid methyl ester – known as FAME. It is produced by vegetable oil, used cooking oil and animal fats.
That has led to machine downtime through shorter fuel shelf-life and an increase in water content causing filter and fuel line blockages. Other reported problems include the biofuel and crude-derived fuel separating in tanks, and issues with injectors.
Recommendations to counteract the increase in FAME content include ensuring bunded fuel stores and bowsers have inline filters and separators and changing the filter every 3-4 deliveries.
Road Haulage Association wants evidence for Government
The RHA in Livingston has issued this advice note to members: "We have been contacted by the NFU who have alerted us to an issue they and their members are facing regarding fuel quality. They suspect the biofuel element is causing problems with the filters and having a particularly negative effect when the temperature dips below freezing.
"They have asked for our support as suppliers are rapidly running out of fuel filters and sub zero temperatures are likely to be round the corner. The NFU plan to approach government about this but before offering them support we want to find out how much of an issue it is for members. If we go to Government then we need to go with evidence."
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Source: Mike Travers, Scottish Plant