Low sulphur bunkers and other current bunker problems


Published: 31 July 2007


As most of you will be aware, the present areas for the exclusive use of low sulphur bunkers will include the North Sea and the English Channel as from 11 August 2007.

We have taken the opportunity to address a few additional bunker problems which we have experienced in the past 2-3 months.

SECA Bunkers

The proposed SECA (Bunker Fuel Sulphur Content Clause for Time Charter Parties 2005) clause from BIMCO does not cater for the quantities of low sulphur bunkers at the time of delivery and redelivery. If it is contemplated at the time of fixture that the vessel will be delivered or redelivered within a SECA area, we suggest the following clause:

SECA Clause

Owners warrant that the vessel will be delivered with sufficient low sulphur bunkers to reach a port or place where suitable low sulphur bunkers may be supplied.

Charterers warrant that the vessel will be redelivered with sufficient low sulphur bunkers to reach a port or place where suitable low sulphur bunkers may be supplied.

Questionnaire / Vessel’s Particulars

We suggest that the charterers’ questionnaire and the description of the vessel in the Charter Party includes the ability of the vessel to carry low sulphur bunkers segregated from other types of bunkers.

The vessel may carry a minimum of xx mt of low sulphur IFO and xx mt of low sulphur MGO segregated from other bunkers.

The vessel has / has not (delete as appropriate)/ segregated settling tanks for low sulphur IFO of xxx cbm capacity and low sulphur MGO of yyy cbm capacity.

ISO Standards

As will be known to most of you, the international ISO standard for bunkers was revised in 2005 and differs in many respects from the previous 1996 version of the same standard.

It is therefore important to specify which of the two versions will apply not only in the Charter Party, but more importantly when the bunkers are stemmed or a request for analysis of a bunker sample is given to a laboratory.

NB: The applicable ISO standards may vary from country to country, and the availability of the required quality should be checked very carefully by your bunkers’ department or bunkers’ broker.

Warranty Of Specifications Outside The ISO Standards

We have recently seen Charter Parties where the charterers have warranted to supply bunkers with specifications outside the ISO standards such as maximum CCAI (the value for the compression of the bunkers to ignite evenly).

We recommend not to accept such a warranty as the actual bunkers’ supplier will be unable to verify the properties of the bunkers that fall outside the usual ISO specifications.

The Quality of the Bunkers

The quality of the bunkers delivered does not seem to have deteriorated, but we recommend you to monitor the situation, e.g. via the monthly index in Lloyd’s List.

If off specification bunkers are delivered, the actual as well as the contractual supplier should be notified without delay. If the vessel is employed on Time Charter the Time Charterers should be notified, Owners should notify their Hull & Machinery Insurers and Time Charterers should notify their liability insurers without delay.


For Owners the standard Hull & Machinery (H&M) insurance will cover the damage to the vessel’s engines and for Charterers the Standard Liability to Hull insurance (CLH) will cover the liability to owners and the time lost during repairs.

The cost of the removal of suspect bunkers, the cleaning of fuel tanks and the replenishment of useable bunkers will not be covered by the above.

More on:

SECA Clause: BIMCO - Bunker Fuel Sulphur Content Clause for Time Charter Parties 2005.

Fuel specifications at: www.iso.org/iso/en/CatalogueDetailPage.CatalogueDetail?CSNUMBER=36365