Tricks of the Bunker Trade: Double Losses for Operators from Undeclared Fuel

by Kaivan H. Chinoy, Petro Inspect / The Bunker Detectives
Thursday September 12, 2013

On many occasions we have come across situations where the receiving vessel will be as much as involved as the supplier in dubious bunkering practices.

Often we have found that the vessel would under-declare fuel quantity which is then either sold back to the barge supplier or simply kept hidden on the vessel until an opportunity comes along to profit from this.

Ultimately, it's the operator who is affected – who can actually suffer the loss twice.

Scenario 1: Under-declaring - To Ship Owners Advantage

The excess 53 MT of fuel oil will be in favor of the owners with a loss to the charterers.

Scenario 2: Under-declaring - With the Aim to Profit for Personal Gain

Contributing factors for the loss:

  • Too much reliance on the vessel's staff.
  • No bunker stem audits are conducted which involves elaborate detective work carried out by independent third party surveying firms.
  • Ignoring non-nominating (non-receiving) tanks to be included in the overall tank measurements during stem operations.
  • Most shipping companies will engage the services of an independent surveyor to protect their interest in case of a large discrepancy in the final figures between the barge and the vessel; however, how many companies actually give clear instructions to the attending surveyor to measure all non-nominated tanks (non-receiving tanks)? Or how many surveying firms actually carry out the measurements diligently? Failing to do so leaves the operator vulnerable.