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What is Bunkering?

A bunker is a storage facility for fuel and oil, whereas bunkering is the act of supplying fuel to ships. The engines that move the ship across the ocean are powered by this fuel, which is also used to run the machinery on board. Bunkering can be done offshore as well as onshore. Long-haul voyages require bunkering since ships are not designed to carry enough fuel for the whole voyage.

Three Typical Bunker Types

In maritime operations, bunkers typically come in three primary types:

Low sulfur fuel oil (LSFO): made in compliance with stringent environmental laws to minimize air pollution, it has a substantially lower sulfur concentration.

High sulfur fuel oil (HSFO): is compliant with more permissive rules and has a greater sulfur concentration.

Low sulfur marine gas oil (LSMGO): is an alternative fuel that burns cleaner and has less sulfur, making it appropriate for engines that need a purer fuel supply.

These bunkers are all employed in various contexts. The choice of bunker to employ is influenced by a number of variables, including environmental circumstances, engine compatibility, and regulatory restrictions.

Types of Bunkering Operations

Bunkering can be done in a ship-to-ship (STS) operation offshore or at a port. Ships get fuel from a bunker barge, tank truck, or pipeline installation when the process is carried out onshore. Bunkering is handled by a bunker barge when it’s finished at sea. A bunker pipe is used in each case to pump fuel into the ship.

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The Phases of an Operation to Bunker

The three phases of bunkering activities are preparation, execution, and cleanup.


The process’s preparatory phase is crucial since it lays the groundwork for efficient operations. The purpose of this preparation is to stop oil leaks, which can endanger public health and cause environmental damage.

Important components to consider when getting ready are:

Examine the equipment to make sure that all of the pumps, meters, and hoses used in bunkering are in good operating order.

Conduct a thorough examination of the ship’s storage tanks to ensure that they are structurally sound and appropriate for holding marine fuels.

Safety precautions include checking all gangway ropes and handrails, locking vertical ladders, making sure there is enough illumination, looking for any slick oil on the gangway or ladder treads, and making sure that no one working on bunkering has been overworked or is showing signs of exhaustion.


Fuel is bunkered into the ship at this phase. The efficient and controlled transfer of fuel into the ship is made possible by the bunkering team’s close coordination, exact control over the equipment, and rigorous adherence to safety protocols.

During the performance stage, important tasks include:

Execution: adhere to the bunkering plan, which contains detailed instructions for bunkering the particular vessel.
Monitoring: keep a close eye on the procedure to handle any unforeseen problems and preserve control.

Wrap Up:

The last phase of bunkering guarantees that the process is completed, putting a focus on precision and safety.

Important actions to do at the wrap-up phase are:

Final safety evaluation: verify that all safety precautions were kept in place until the very conclusion of the bunkering procedure.
Verification: Make that the gasoline was delivered to the ship in the appropriate quantity and in accordance with the necessary quality criteria.
Documentation: for regulatory and record-keeping purposes, formally close the bunkering operation and provide a thorough record of the procedure.

The Risks of Oil Bunkering 

Risks associated with oil bunkering jeopardize operational integrity, environmental health, and maritime safety.

Fuel contamination, which happens when contaminants or incompatible materials combine with the bunkered oil, is one of the main risks associated with ship bunkering. The engines of a ship can sustain significant damage from contaminated gasoline, which can result in reduced performance, higher maintenance costs, and safety risks.

There is a chance of spills and leaks when handling oil bunkering, whether because of malfunctioning equipment, mistakes made by people, or unanticipated events.

These mishaps may result in long-term environmental harm that affects marine ecosystems and puts the bunkering vessel at risk of financial and legal repercussions. Reducing these risks related to oil bunkering activities requires strict adherence to industry standards, monitoring systems, and safety measures.

Watch Out for Deceptive Shipping Practices Associated with Bunkering

One of the seven deceptive shipping practices (DSP) that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has identified is ship-to-ship transfers. By hiding the cargo’s origin or destination, these transfers are utilized to get around sanctions. Certain ships will use ship-to-ship bunkering as a means of concealing their dishonest actions. This DSP can be exposed by Maritime AITM.

Additionally, 50% of a ship’s running costs are related to bunkering. Malicious actors engage in a variety of tactics to profit from the ambiguity of these transfers, such as:

Giving misleading information on the kind or quality of fuel that has been bunkered in order to profit from price differences.
Fabricating records about the amount, caliber, or place of origin of the bunkered fuel in order to mislead authorities or interested parties.
Combining several fuel types or diluting bunker fuel with less expensive materials.

Bunkering in Albania

Bunkering services for yachts in Albania are available, and there are several options for fueling in the country’s ports. Please contact B yachting for more info