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Common bunker terms and related guideline

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Ships bunkering is generally applied to the storage of petroleum products in designated tanks for ship's main engine propulsion and power generation at sea. Bunkering is a major voyage cost for ship owners to run their business. A prudent shipowner/operator needs a bunkering plan allowing for the purchase of bunkers at the best price in quantities sufficient for a safe voyage, but also allowing for the maximum carriage of cargo. Refueling of ships is carried out at all major seaports.

The term "bunkers" is an old shipping term that goes back to the days when coal was the primary fuel used onboard ships. The coal would be stored onboard the ship in a space called the coal bunker. The transition from sail to steam in the 19th and early part of the 20th century was facilitated by the establishment of bunkering ports worldwide (where coal was widely available). In today's busy shipping market, "bunkers" is referred to as any liquid marine fuel. The dense, thick fuel has been used in the cargo shipping and cruise line industry for years because it is inexpensive, especially compared to other fuels. After the oil has been refined into diesel, gasoline, or jet fuel, bunker fuel is what's leftover at the refinery. Explained below some widely used terms in the bunker industry.

Bunker delivery note : The standard document required by Annex VI of MARPOL contains information on fuel oil delivery: name of receiving vessel, port, date, data of a supplier, quantity, and characteristics of fuel oil. Every BDN is to be accompanied by a representative sample of the fuel oil delivered. Fuel oil suppliers are to provide the bunker delivery note. The note is to be retained on the vessel, for inspection purposes, for three years after the fuel has been delivered. Following information to be included in the Bunker Delivery Note:
  1. Name and IMO number of receiving ship
  2. Bunkering Port
  3. Date of commencement of delivery
  4. Name, address, and telephone number of marine fuel oil supplier
  5. Product name
  6. uantity (metric tons)
  7. Density at 15 (kg/m3)
  8. Sulphur content (% m/m). Further, the seal number of MARPOL sample label to be included in the Bunker Delivery Note for cross-reference purposes.

Residual fuel oils: which are distinguished by their viscosities and are blended with other products to meet the required viscosity. These blends are generally known as Intermediate Fuel Oil (IFO). IFO is primarily burned in the ship's main propulsion system.

Marine Gas Oil (MGO) and Marine Diesel Oil (MDO): which are examples of distillates. They are burned in the main engines of smaller vessels and the auxiliaries of larger ships. MGO is a higher quality. It has a clear color and contains no residual oil.

Viscosity: this is the measure of a liquid's internal resistance to flow. Viscosity is important because it indicates the amount of heating that the fuel needs for pumping purposes and to achieve optimum burning performance

Density: this is a measurement of mass per unit volume of a substance. For marine fuels, it is normally quoted in terms of kg/liter or kg / cubic meter at a temperature of 15 degrees centigrade. Density is used to convert volume into metric tons.

Flash point: this is the temperature at which vapors emitted by the oil will ignite when a test flame is applied. The flashpoint is important for purposes of storing the oil, preparing it for burning, and safety considerations.

There are also contaminants in fuel oil, such as vanadium, sodium, aluminum, and silicon. Controlling the contaminants can reduce engine wear and tear and provide for more efficient combustion.

Under MARPOL Annex VI requirements, a BDN is to be retained on board for three years. Every BDN is to be accompanied by a representative sample of the fuel supplied. The sample is to be retained on board for a minimum of twelve months. The sample is to be a minimum of 400 ml and provided with a label with information stating the location where the sample was taken, sampling method, bunker date, name of bunker barge/pier, receiving ship's name, and IMO. No, sample seal number and bunker grade.

The Bunker Market

The price and availability of ship's fuel significantly impact freight and hire rates and the ship owner's and operator's profitability overall. The sale and purchase of bunkers involve various players. There are many players in this volatile market, such as:
Reputed bunker suppliers :
  1. World Fuel Services is a Fortune 500 company and provides energy procurement advisory services, fuel oil supply, and transaction and payment management solutions for commercial and industrial customers, principally in the marine, aviation, and land transportation industries.

  2. Glander International Bunkering has offices around the U.S.A. and the world and is longstanding bunker traders and brokers.

  3. Major oil companies such as Shell are a worldwide supplier of various marine fuels. Moreover Shell is investing in supply infrastructure in key global ports to serve customers who have chosen LNG as their bunkering fuel.

With the recent implementation of IMO's 0.5% global sulfur cap on fuel content from 1 January, 2020 is a response to heightening environmental concerns, contributed in part by harmful emissions from ships. Undoubtedly this has created a massive impact on the global bunkering industry. In the BIMCO website many Common bunker terms published that provide useful guideline relating to various issues that might arise during the sale and purchase of bunkers.




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