How to reduce risk of Bunkering

Be Safe when Bunkering!

Bunkering procedure – reduce risk of accidents.


Bunkering is a risky process and one which, if not handled correctly, has caused accidents in previous maritime situations. In some unfortunate cases even leading to fatalities. The health, security and safety of our crew, team members, the environment and those stakeholders that come into contact with our operations, is of paramount importance. We must all remain mindful, considerate and vigilant in following best practice and our approved procedure. The movement of hazardous and flammable fuel and oil has the potential to harm both people and the environment and we must exercise extreme care and attention to prevent an accident or spillage.

We can minimise the risk of an accident by carefully following the bunkering procedure which is designed to protect personnel and the health and safety of the team. Please take time to read and understand the following guidelines they are here to support you, your teams and colleagues and ensure all of our safety.

Herewith we set out the key considerations to employ while bunkering on-board a ship.

Ship Bunkering

Bunkering Procedure

The tasks, checks and balances are split into three sections; Pre-Bunkering, In-Bunkering and Post-Bunkering.


• Define how much fuel is to be loaded.
• Check and calculate the bunker tanks to be loaded. Ensure the bunker tanks have adequate storage for the required amounts.
• If necessary drain tanks to prevent tank/fuel contamination of a non-compatible fuel.
• Assemble bunkering team and explain the process steps, include; tanks filled, level of fuel, emergency protocols in event of accident, team roles and responsibilities, overflow tank is prepared, lighting is adequate, red flag is displayed on masthead, scuppers and save all trays are plugged, no-smoking sign displayed, draught and trim of ship.
• Once barge secured to shipside ensure; Barge team understands the process, check paperwork oil grade and specification, pumping rates agreed, hose connection secure to manifold, SOPEP equipment’s in place, check valves, communication signals established in event of an emergency.
• It is now safe to open the manifold valve and begin bunkering.


• Keep flow rate slow to start, ensure the oil is coming to correct tank.
• Wherever possible fill one tank at a time to ensure full attention is paid to the task in hand. Multiple filling could lead to confusion.
• Only fill a tank to 90% of capacity, slow down the flow as approaching the fill level threshold to ensure an accurate deposit of the correct level of fuel.
• Check fuel levels frequently, increase the frequency of checks as the fill level is approaching.
• Check the bunker temperature, ensure it is in line with supplier recommendations.
• Monitor and sample during bunkering with aid of the sampling cock.


• Check the draught and trim of ship.
• Check the fuel levels of the bunkered tanks. Has the correct and adequate amount of fuel been deposited?
• Ensure the bunkered volume is in line on temperature, trim and heel.
• Reduce density by 0.64kg/m3 for every degree of temperature increase.
• Distribute samples; We recommend four samples are distributed. One is kept on-board, one to barge, one for analysis, one to port state, one to barge.
• Remove the hose connection from manifold.
• Send a sample for laboratory analysis. Ensure the laboratory have the correct and accurate specification of the bunker fuel.
• Only use the bunker once the laboratory report confirms that the material is to the correct specification.

In summary you are now familiar with the key points and procedure to follow in bunkering. We can see that good communication and teamwork is vital to our operations success and safety. Minimise the risk of accident to you and your colleagues by sharing best practice procedure and following our guidelines to ensure everyone is safe at work.


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