Quality, quantity, time loss, spillages and leakages are the significant items to be considered during physical bunkering operations. Spillages and leakages during bunkering operations are a primary source of oil pollution from ships. Experience has shown that many of the bunker overflows and spillages that do occur can be attributed to human error. All bunkering operations should be carefully planned and executed in accordance with MARPOL regulations. Pollution caused when heavy fuel oil is split is particularly damaging and difficult to clean-up. Personnel involved in the bunkering operation on board should have no other tasks and should remain at their workstations during topping-off. This is particularly important when bunkers are being loaded concurrent with cargo operations, in order to avoid conflicts of interest for operational personnel. Spillages often occur when staff are distracted by another task.
Companies should require that all bunkering operations are controlled under procedures that are incorporated in the ship’s Safety Management System. The procedures should ensure that the risks associated with the operation have been assessed and that controls are in place to mitigate these risks. The procedures should also address contingency arrangements in the event of a spill. The Company should consider the following items when producing the procedures:
• Determining that there is adequate space for the volume of bunkers to be loaded.
• Establishing maximum loading volume for all tanks.
• Controls for the setting of bunker system valves.
• Determining loading rates for the start of loading, bulk loading and topping-off.
• Special precautions when loading into double bottom tanks.
• Arrangements of bunker tank ventilation.
• Internal tank overflow arrangements.
• Verification of gauging system operation and accuracy.
• Alarm settings on overfill alarm units.
• Communication with the terminal to establish when bunkering can be undertaken.
• Communications with the bunker supplier prior to commencement, to establish and record the loading procedure to be followed and to determine how quantity and quality checks may be carried out, particularly if safe access is needed between the ship and a barge.
• Methods of managing the handling of bunkers which have or may have a hydrogen sulphide content.
• Testing procedures for determining the presence of hydrocarbon or H2S vapours.
• Method of determining the temperature of the bunkers during loading.
• Communications procedure for the operation, including emergency stop.
• Manning requirements to execute the operation safely.
• Monitoring of the bunkering operation and checking it conforms to the agreed procedure.
• Changing over tanks during loading.
• Containment arrangements and c lean-up equipment to be available.
• Once the procedure is produced, it should be implemented by use of a check-list.
Stemming bunkers commands careful planning, co-ordination and co-operation between all parties involved from the point of ordering until completion of the delivery. Any inconvenience during bunker and/or lubricant delivery caused by the vessel and/or bunker barge’s personnel, weather conditions, local authorities, general physical factors are strictly handled, immediately in accordance with the professional, legal and ethical means available. Bunkerist and his business partners follow up the fault, if any, and essential actions regarding the party at fault are taken as soon as officially advised.