Understanding Marine Gas Oil: A Comprehensive Guide

boat in the sea

Marine gas oil (MGO) is a type of fuel used in marine vessels, including ships, boats, and other watercraft. It is a vital component in the shipping industry, powering the engines that transport goods and people across the world’s oceans. In this guide, we will explore what marine gas oil is, its uses, specifications, and safety considerations.

What is Marine Gas Oil?

Marine gas oil is a type of fuel that is specifically designed for use in marine vessels. It is a distillate fuel, meaning it is produced through the distillation of crude oil. This process separates the different components of crude oil, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. Marine gas oil is a middle distillate, meaning it is produced between diesel and heavy fuel oil.

Marine Gas Oil vs. Marine Diesel

Marine gas oil is often confused with marine diesel, but there are some key differences between the two. Marine diesel is a heavier fuel than marine gas oil, with a higher viscosity and density. It is also less refined and contains more impurities. Marine diesel is typically used in larger, more powerful engines, while marine gas oil is used in smaller, less powerful engines.

Uses of Marine Gas Oil

Marine gas oil is primarily used as a fuel for marine vessels, including cargo ships, tankers, and passenger ships. It is also used in smaller boats and yachts. In addition to powering the engines, marine gas oil is also used for heating and electricity generation on board ships.

Other Uses of Marine Gas Oil

Marine gas oil is also used in other industries, such as power generation and agriculture. In power generation, it is used as a backup fuel for diesel generators. In agriculture, it is used in tractors and other farm equipment.

Marine Gas Oil Specifications

Marine gas oil must meet certain specifications to be suitable for use in marine vessels. These specifications are set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The most common specifications for marine gas oil are ISO 8217 and IMO Annex VI.

ISO 8217

ISO 8217 is the international standard for marine fuels. It sets the maximum limits for various properties of marine fuels, including viscosity, density, flash point, and sulfur content. The latest version of ISO 8217, published in 2017, sets stricter limits for sulfur content, in line with IMO regulations.

IMO Annex VI

IMO Annex VI is a set of regulations that aim to reduce air pollution from ships. It sets limits for the sulfur content of marine fuels, with the current limit being 0.50% m/m (mass by mass). This limit will be further reduced to 0.10% m/m in 2020.

Safety Considerations for Marine Gas Oil

Marine gas oil is a flammable liquid and must be handled with care. It is also toxic if ingested or inhaled. Therefore, it is important to follow safety precautions when handling marine gas oil.

Marine Gas Oil SDS and MSDS

A safety data sheet (SDS) and material safety data sheet (MSDS) are documents that provide information on the hazards and safe handling of a substance. These documents are required for all hazardous substances, including marine gas oil. They can be obtained from the supplier or manufacturer of the marine gas oil.

Safe Handling of Marine Gas Oil

When handling marine gas oil, it is important to wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as gloves and goggles. It should also be stored in a well-ventilated area away from sources of ignition. In case of a spill, it should be contained and cleaned up immediately to prevent environmental damage.


Marine gas oil is a crucial fuel for the shipping industry, powering the engines of marine vessels and providing heat and electricity on board. It is a highly refined fuel that must meet strict specifications to ensure safe and efficient operation. By understanding what marine gas oil is, its uses, and safety considerations, we can appreciate the important role it plays in global trade and transportation.

Compass Fuel Oil offers an extensive selection of bunker fuel oils to satisfy all marine needs. For expert advice on which type to purchase and when, our specialists are just a phone call away on 0330 128 9838.