Due to the relentlessly rising price of oil and ever-increasing marine
environmental protection awareness, the bunkering of ships, which
was once a relatively low skill, low value, activity has evolved into a
highly focused shipboard operation in terms of regulatory compliance, and quality and quantity assurance.
Thepurpose of this guide is to assist a ship’s officers and crew
involved in bunkering operations to act in compliance with applicable regulations and industry best practice; the guide will also be
of value to shore staff.
This guide aims to provide general information, advice and guidance. Detailed guidelines, instructions and procedures are available
in the ship’s Safety Management System(SMS) and the Shipboard
Oil Pollution Emergency Plan (SOPEP) or Shipboard Marine Pollution
Emergency Plan (SMPEP) as appropriate.
Many owners also have their own specific requirements for the
conduct of bunkering operations which are more detailed than the
minimum requirements in the operational procedures contained
in the vessels SMS, SOPEP or SMPEP, especially with regard to commercialconsiderations.
Bunkering operations are governed in general terms internationally
by the IMO’s MARPOL Annexes I & VI. SOLAS Chapter VI Regulation
5.1 also requires that a Material Safety Data Sheet be provided for
oil products carried on board ships. In addition to the IMO regulations, many states, and even individual ports, have their own regulatory regimes covering bunkering operations. It is ofparamount
importance that prior to commencement of any bunkering operation, a check is made with the local agent and/or bulk supplier for
information and guidance pertaining to the local regulations.
The MARPOL Annex VI sulphur limits and application dates are as
There are two types of bunker fuel oil:
Residual fuels are a mix of refineryresidual fuel and distillates
blended to meet specification requirements.
Distillate Fuel (which is product obtained by condensing the
vapours distilled from petroleum crude oil or its products) comes
in two variants and again, both are available with varying levels of
contain a small amount of residual component.
Health, Safety, Environmentalprotection
SOLAS Chapter VI Regulation 5-1 requires that a Material Safety
Data Sheet (MSDS) for MARPOL Annex I type Cargoes and Marine
Fuel Oils shall be provided to the ship by the supplier prior to loading or bunkering; this is to assist shipboard personnel in carrying
out their duties under safe conditions. MSDSs might include the
following warnings and guidance:
Fuel oil and vapoursmay:
sources of ignition
vapours may be given off
Safety and Environmental Protection:
checklists and procedures for bunkering, and if applicable, for
Ship to Ship operations
or Shipboard Marine Pollution Emergency Plan (SMPEP)
dance with the SOPEP/SMPEP
nally and externally are established prior to commencingoperations, including particularly agreement on how ship stop
or supplier stop instructions will be given, acknowledged and
diately and in accordance with the SOPEP/SMPEP be reported to
the appropriate bodies, including but not limited to:
Port State Authorities
Ship’s P&I Club
Oil Spill Contractors/QualifiedIndividual, if applicable
Ship’s Flag State
Planning for a bunkering operation
The following points should be covered in the on board procedures
of the vessel however and are restated here for the sake of clarity.
Prior to bunkering the staff and crew involved must be aware of:
ing the operation,
vessel SMS and SOPEP or SMPEP.