Real Bunker Survey or Illusion of It?
Most of charterers use survey services to monitor the bunkering operation process and ensure receiving the total amount of ordered fuel from the supplier.
The presence of a bunker surveyor on board during bunkering operation could be considered questionable. What is the real necessity for a surveyor to be there? What should he/she control?
In the following article, Bunker Protection Team explains the role of surveyors onboard.
If it is necessary to establish correctness of all bunker figures after transferring fuel from a barge, the statement from a chief engineer is good enough. The payment to a bunker supplier can be made based on this statement. When data received from the chief engineer satisfies the charterer the presence of a surveyor on board is redundant.
Otherwise, if a charterer wants to check the opposite side of the bunkering process on board of the inspected vessel the appointed surveyor has to be well familiarized with the vessel’s systems and equipment.
In that situation the surveyor has to have some engineering knowledge on how to operate modern monitoring systems, how to read drawings of a vessel’s systems and its electrical diagrams.
These skills are needed for a surveyor to be able to check the existing “practice” of the crew that end up hiding some amount of fuel oil and selling it in the convenient port during sludge disposal operations.
In the announcements of owners of the surveying companies, which execute bunker survey services, a high level of service is declared meanwhile the survey is done in a standard manner: check vessel’s draft – measure the level of fuel in the tanks by sounding – check the temperature of the fuel in the tanks.
The number of surveying companies in the bunker field has increased and new companies still appear on the market. The present situation in the bunker survey industry could be compared with that in the world fleet in the last decade. The shortage of qualified personnel is the main problem which most of companies face.
The surveyor without at least basic technical knowledge cannot be able to perform the job right.
The shortage of well qualified personnel caused predictable result – surveyors just reflect data which chief engineers present to them.
Experience shows that there is a certain percentage of chief engineers who are involved in fuel oil manipulations. Being on board, a surveyor is under the influence of the chief engineer’s authority.
As a person who is well familiarized with the vessel’s system and level/temperature monitoring equipment, the chief engineer, in case of his non ethical attitude, can hide some amount of fuel oil. The concealed fuel oil quantity is variable depending on vessel size.
The browsing of internet has shown interesting things.
The surveying companies are declaring proudly their high-performance service with attractive results but vessels’ crews on the forums are boasting of how easily they can deceive a surveyor and subsequently sell fuel in China, India, Brazil, etc.
The target of any surveyor who takes part in bunker survey is to present true information about fuel oil tanks content in the moment of inspection. The surveyor has only a few hours in the port to solve a problem while the crew prepares for the survey during all of their sea passage.
Prior to calling any surveyor think about what you really need from them – a nicely prepared report or real result?
Bunker Protection, July 8th, 2014