September, 2023 - Bunkers: A Guide to Quality and Quantity Claims
- Date: 28/09/2023
The quality of bunker fuel continues to be a source of concern to shipowners and charterers. Over the last 40 years or so, enhanced refining techniques have resulted in a decline in the quality of residual fuel. Unfortunately, some marine fuels have also been used as a dumping ground for waste chemicals and organic substances that are suspected to have caused serious operating problems. Added to this the global switch to low sulphur fuel in 2020 has resulted in heavy blending and quality issues occur all too frequently.
Every year there are isolated incidents of fuel supplied with high levels of catalytic fines, high total sediment and low flash point and the blending of different “renewable” components into fuels appears to be increasing.
There have also been larger-scale contamination incidents, which are often identified when a number of ships suffer similar types of machinery damage as a result of fuel supplied in the same region.
In this publication we set out some important procedures that should be adopted in order to reduce the chances of fuel-related engine damage and ship downtime and provide valuable evidence should a bunker quality claim occur. We also highlight steps that can be taken to minimise the likelihood of bunker quantity claims and review some of the key legal principles relating to the supply of bunkers.