Bunkers and Block-Chain

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With the “summer of bad bunkers” very present in all shipowners’, charterers’ and operators’ minds, most companies who have some sort of stake in the bunker industry are vary of the future – with good reason.

Marine fuel is large part of shipping, both because of the cost involved but also because of the large associated risks if the marine fuels are damaging to the equipment onboard the trading vessels. The bad bunkers experienced during the summer has been a big issue for the shipowners, charterers and operators, because no-one has taken the responsibility and the owners have been left with the option to either consume fuel and thereby taking a high risk of main engine failure due to contaminants in the fuel or to wait for forensic analysis (for example GC-MS) with the risk of breaching the time-bar and thereby losing the option to claim the supplier for damages.

The result of this is that shipowners, charterers and operators have been very cautious with where they have stemmed bunkers to be lifted and with whom. This has been quite a big hindrance to the shipping trade as a whole and major costs have been associated with this.

So what is the solution?

I don’t believe there is one solution to the issues we have seen, and most industry experts agree that this will be an even greater and more complex issue towards the sulphur cap in 2020. So, the question remains, how do we create greater transparency? We need to know who to buy bunkers from, where to lift it and if we get short supplied or get off-spec quality, we need insurance that we can raise a claim… most shipowners/operators are even prepared to pay a premium for this.

BunkerTrust has a patented solution to ensure traceability of any quantity and quality issues (no block chain required, on this part). When a bunker procurement is placed by a bunker purchaser, this creates a unique ID which is attached to an MMSI number of a receiving vessel which is now “flagged” for bunker delivery on a specific date/time in a specific port/anchorage. When the receiving vessel is approached by a bunker barge from our database on the day/time of the expected bunker delivery (all through AIS), the receiving vessel is invited to enter information about that barge (quantity, quality, physical supplier, rating of performance etc.). This is then checked by our patented proximity algorithm, which means that we can verify 1) the order and tracking ID, 2) the MMSI of the receiving vessel, 3) the MMSI of the bunker barge and 4) the proximity. With this this verification process we can now ensure that a bunker delivery has taken place.

… OK, so for this part there is no need for block-chain.

We know who the supplier, date/time, the fuel type and where in the world this was lifted. Now we can show on a heatmap where in the world the shipowners, operators and charterers have experienced quality and quantity issues… a solution which is patent pending – this will provide shipowners insight into where these issues are experienced.

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