The Rising Tide of Bunker Losses
• The problem of bunker theft is widespread
throughout the world
• The high value of fuel makes it even more
tempting for people to hide ‘borrow’ fuel
• Are you losing your hard gained money?
Fuel up the Chief Engineer’s Sleeve
• It is true that many, probably most Chief
Engineers have some fuel hidden – just in case
• However if the hidden fuel is not given up at
the end of the charter, it stops being hidden
and becomes stolen.
• And how do we know that the just in case fuel
does not disappear every time the vessel
bunkers within the charter, and is it then
replenished from the charters fuel once again
The High Cost of Fuel
• Fuel is now the biggest individual cost we
have in shipping
• Forcing many companies to slow-steam to
reduce their costs.
How does a lot of the fuel disappear
Bunker barge - Got any spare fuel Captain?
I Just have this 100 tons nobody wants, could
you help me out?
Of course we can sir
How it disappears
• A vessel is about to take 1,000mt of bunkers
from a barge.
• How ever, they have a 100mt of fuel hidden.
• The vessel contacts the barge and says I only
need 900mt, so you give me 900 and an
invoice for 1,000 and we will share the profit.
• If the vessel is surveyed after this, then the
fuel on board will be correct.
Beat the rush
•This is why it makes
good sense to always
survey the vessel before
she takes bunkers.
There are many ways to cheat
• Short bunker delivery.
• Hidden compartments.
• Altered sounding pipe lengths
• Magic pipes.
• Altered sounding tables.
• Sounding tapes not properly calibrated
• Surveyors just accepting the Masters ROB as
Your Charter Party may be losing
Your CP may be losing you money
• If your charter party (CP) has a double about
clause, then the second part of the about
allows the vessel’s fuel consumption stated in
the CP to rise by 5%
• You cannot claim for over consumption in this
• Lets look at a Panamax
• Say the consumption is “about” 40mt per day
• 40mt tons / day - 5% extra = is 2mt/day
• On a 50 day voyage the 2mt becomes 100mt
Fuel price $620 per mt x 100mt = $62,000 lost
• Lets look at a Handy
• Say the consumption is “about 19mt per day”
• 19mt tons / day - 5% extra = 0.95mt/day
• On a 40 day voyage the 0.95mt becomes 38mt
Fuel price $620 per mt x 38mt = $23,560 lost
And No Claim
• Grabbing the ‘the about’ can happen with
excuses from the captain of :-
• Sea state worse than it actually is.
• Wave height above what it actually is.
• Overstating distance travelled due to currents.
• Saying the vessel had to change direction due
to bad weather, causing increased mileage
• Or no excuse
• You still cannot claim the over consumption
• Weather routing is
great, but if you are
slow steaming most
owners will not let you
claim for over
consumption of fuel.
• So you need to go on
board and find the fuel.
Using a Weather Routing Service
• Weather Routing services are excellent
• They will tell you the consumption of the
• They will tell you about any over consumption
• If there is a double about they will generally
tell you that you cannot claim the about and
the overconsumption claim starts after the
about is allowed for
Beating the about
• The only way to find out if the
about has really been used is
by surveying the vessel.
Fuel Sounding Tape
This is to measure the depth of the fuel in
the tank. Then using vessel’s the sounding
tables the volume of the fuel can be found.
The magic pipe
It’s just like magic.
These magic pipes are
designed to fit tightly inside
the actual sounding pipe.
The bottom end of the
magic pipe is closed, the
magic pipe is pushed
through the fuel to the
bottom of the tank.
Now if sounded the tank
appears empty, or any other
depth they want.
Surveying the tanks
• Finding magic a pipe is not easy, but there are
many other ways to hide fuel which need to
be checked as well.
• Devices that prevent gauges from showing the
• Hidden compartments
• Altered sounding pipes lengths
• Sometime not enough fuel onboard can tell a
story – was the fuel ever there?
• To find the fuel someone qualified has to go
on board the vessel and get their hands dirty
• In order to prevent these loses and maximise
your savings, it is best to have a full
programme of testing .
• This can be done prior to, or in conjunction
with, BQS and at the off-hire survey.
• (BQS is a bunker quantity/quality survey)
Sounding table in poor condition
The magic pipe removed
Findings with the Magic pipe removed
Findings value approx $80,000
Case Study Results
AT THE TIME OF SURVEY fuel worth approx $80,000
HFO LSFO LSMGO
912.940 363.632 132.798
799.600 362.430 126.700
+113.240 +1.202 +6.098
Why its best to have a programme
• Even for small Charterers, lets say:-
• 10 vessels on charter x 5 charters a year / ship
• This is 50 charters x average fuel find of 30mt
• This is 1500mt x $620 = $930,000
• Minus costs and commission $150, 000
• Gives you a gain of $730,000
• Costs vary greatly with geography
Bunker Detectives and Surveyors