tainted shipping fuel sparks calls for tighter quality control

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* Marine fuel sector is notoriously opaque

* Tainted fuel can spread quickly, is hard to trace source

* Shippers preparing for shift to lower-sulphur fuel in 2020

* Shipping network is backbone of global trade

* Singapore shipping, bunker volumes: https://tmsnrt.rs/2wQyagj

By Roslan Khasawneh

SINGAPORE, Sept 5 (Reuters) - A wave of contaminated fuel that has clogged and damaged engines on hundreds of oil tankers and container vessels in the past months has pushed shippers to demand stricter quality controls around the world.

The calls are shining a light on the notoriously opaque shipping fuel sector, where any contamination can spread quickly and be difficult to trace back to its source.

That is because large volumes of fuel oil are blended with so-called cutter stocks by suppliers and sold on through an extensive network of middlemen before finding their way into ships' fuel tanks.

This tide of dirty fuel comes when the shipping industry, the backbone of global commerce with over 90 percent of the world's traded goods transported on the oceans, is bracing for an unprecedented shift to lower-sulphur fuel from 2020.

"We strongly believe that the (marine) fuel industry should get a grip on the situation and take on the responsibility it has in these matters," said Mads P. Zacho, chief executive officer at Danish shipping company J. Lauritzen.

The contamination first emerged at the U.S. Gulf coast as early as January this year, but the exact suppliers and ....

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