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Bunker Fuel Oil Delivery

Bunker delivery receipt This section deals with delivery of large volumes of bunker fuel oil. It relies heavily on marine practice but the methods and lessons have relevance to land-based applications where current procedures are often less strict, to the detriment of the fuel buyer. Associated with the actual physical delivery of the bunkers is the accompanying paperwork. This can be conveniently sub-divided into two parts:

  • Pre-delivery documentation
  • Bunker Delivery Note (BDN)


Pre-delivery Fuel Oil Documentation

The purpose of the pre-delivery document is to record agreement on the operational details of the transfer and to ensure safe transfer of the product. This document originates from the seller’s representative and states the grade or grades with the nominated quantity. Ideally the grades will be expressed by reference to ISO 8217, which defines viscosity for residual fuel oil grades at 50°C. Distillate grades, instead of being referenced as DMA or DMB may be referred to as marine gas oil or marine diesel.
Having established what is to be transferred, agreement has to be reached on the pumping rate acceptable to the receiving vessel to ensure safe transfer. The next aspect to be considered is witnessing of tanks by sounding or ullage and the approach to this is detailed later in this section. Agreement should be reached on the witnessing of a representative sample and this again is detailed later. The spill prevention transfer procedure must also be discussed and agreed. The key to this is communication and a checklist can be useful to ensure no points are missed.

Bunker Delivery Note (BDN)

The purpose of the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN or Bunker Delivery Receipt, BDR) is to record what has been transferred. MARPOL Annex VI requires the following details to be included:

  • Name and IMO Number of receiving ship
  • Port
  • Date of commencement of delivery
  • Name, address, and telephone number of marine fuel oil supplier
  • Product name(s)
  • Quantity in metric tons
  • Density at 15oC, kg/m3
  • Sulphur content (%m/m)

In addition the BDN will include:

  • Temperature of product delivered
  • Sample seal numbers

The MARPOL BDN must also have a signed declaration by the fuel oil supplier’s representative that the fuel oil is a blend of hydrocarbons derived from petroleum refining that:

  • Meets applicable sulphur limits
  • Is free from inorganic acid
  • Does not include any added substance or chemical waste that:
    • Jeopardizes the safety of ships or adversely affects the performance of the machinery,
    • Is harmful to personnel, or
    • Contributes overall to additional air pollution

Alternatively, in the case that the fuel oil is derived by methods other than petroleum refining, as well as meeting the above conditions it must not:

  • Cause an engine to exceed the applicable NOx emission limit

Care should be taken before signing the BDN. For example, the bunkers should not be signed for in weight form, only for volume at observed temperature. The actual weight can only be calculated after a representative sample of the delivery has been tested for density.

MARPOL Annex VI requires the BDN to be retained for at least 3 years from the date of issue.

Letter of Protest (should anything go wrong)
Should there be any dispute in the quantity of bunkers delivered, the purchaser or his representative should issue a letter of protest, which is properly signed and stamped by both parties. An example of such a letter is shown below. The barge or fuel oil supplier as well as the ship owner or engine operator can use the letter of protest system.

Bunkering Check List

Bunkering is often carried out when the engineering staff are under pressure in both time and manpower. Key checks are often missed and only come to light when it is too late. A few relevant points are detailed below:

  • The purchaser should obtain specification acceptance from the supplier
  • Purchaser needs to advise ship’s staff what grade of fuel will be delivered and how transferred
  • Fuels from different deliveries should be segregated as far as practical
  • All receiving tanks need to be gauged prior to taking fuel
  • Don’t sign any documentation unless you have witnessed the actual event
  • Always take up witness offers made by the supplier
  • If the origin and method by which a supplier’s sample was obtained is unknown then sign for it adding the words “for receipt only - source unknown”
  • Wherever possible always take fuel samples using a continuous drip method throughout the bunkering at the point of delivery on the receiving ship i.e. as close as practical to the hose connection
  • At least four-five samples will be required for each barge/delivery/fuel grade:
    a. The official MARPOL sample which the Port State Control Officer (PSCO) may be required to be analysed. Note the MARPOL sample must be a minimum of 400ml and be retained for at least 12 months.
    b. The vessel’s own retained sample
    c. A sample for laboratory analysis
    d. A sample for onboard analysis
    e. A sample for the supplier
    f. Note further samples may need to be provided for any retained bunker surveyors
  • Sign the BDN for volume only, if necessary adding the words “for volume only - weight to be determined after density tests”
  • Ensure good records are kept throughout the bunkering
  • Keep accurate engine logs in the event of any subsequent problems
  • Keep bunkering fuel samples for at least 12 months
  • Use on-site tests to check all fuel on delivery for Viscosity, Density, Water, Stability, Pour Point and Salt (if water present)
  • Use a laboratory to check results in the event of any discrepancies being indicated by on-site test equipment.
  • The master or crew should document any instance of the bunker fuel delivery note or representative sample not being in compliance with the relevant regulations
  • It is also recommended that if laboratory analysis shows sulphur levels to be outside of regulatory limits the vessel’s flag administration, the bunker port administration and fuel supplier are notified


Off-line Bunker Fuel

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