A Closer Look: The Importance of Bunker Fuel Quality Testing and its Impact on the Shipping World

Why does the transport of marine fuel samples across the globe for routine analysis provide constant logistical challenges?

09 December 2013

The transport of marine fuel samples across the globe for routine analysis provides a constant logistical challenge, especially in relation to both global and local customs regulations.

For conscientious ship owners / operators, bunker fuel testing is a top priority and routine analysis using a quality control program ensuring that lengthy delays and unnecessary costs are avoided.

Those owners / operators who submit fuel samples as part of a routine analysis program know full well that, in the majority of cases, the fuel samples taken will not be tested in the port / region in which it is landed. As this is the case, they are then reliant upon the vessels agent or a courier company to arrange the transportation of the samples to the appropriate test facility. However, reliance upon an agent or a courier can be problematic especially when sudden changes in requirements for transport of liquid fuel samples are witnessed. Such changes can incur severe delays which then impacts upon the overall operation of the vessel. A good example of this was witnessed in China, in the run up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where local customs regulations were altered to prevent the shipment of liquid fuel samples. These new rules were upheld after the completion of the games and are still enforced today.

Any delay in the transit of a fuel sample, whether it is the result of a customs delay or a sample that has been incorrectly labelled, can place a vessel in a position where it is required to use a non-tested fuel.

This sort of situation can force ship owners /operators to decide upon a course of action which could ultimately lead to unnecessary risk to the welfare of the crew as well as the vessel.

So, how do ship owners / operators find a solution?

As previously suggested many owners / operators will take advantage of the experience offered by their fuel analysis provider.

Like many service providers, ShipCare offers a global infrastructure of laboratory test facilities at strategic locations across the world. However, many ship owners / operators aren't simply looking for a service provider that offers support via experience, but one who is capable of taking a proactive approach.

The strategic use of available laboratory facilities, in conjunction with an extensive logistics network will go a long way to ensuring clients' test requirements are met in as short of time as possible.

By utilising a logistics network with a comprehensive knowledge of customs and transport requirements – as well as experience of laboratory capabilities – ship owners / operators can be offered the reassurance they need to place control of sample transit in the hands of their provider rather than leaving it to chance.

What questions do you have when it comes to bunker fuel quality testing or the benefits offered by the ShipCare initiative? Please leave a comment below and one of our experts will get back to you.

Today's expert blogger is Michael Green, Global Technical Manager for Intertek Shipcare services worldwide. Michael is based in the United Kingdom.