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Sampling methods
Before any bunkering begins, the supplier or its representative barge master and the ships
personnel must agree several important points relating to the sampling process, including
location of sample point

sampling method
volume of samples to be taken
number of samples to be taken
sample sealing arrangements
authorised signatories
custody of bunker samples.
Determination of the sample point position and the type of sampling equipment to be
used should be agreed prior to the start of bunkering, and this should form part of bunkering

Clause 18 of MARPOL annex VI requires that a bunker delivery note (see Chapter 9)

must also be accompanied by a representative sample of fuel oil. The MARPOL sample
should be taken at the ships receiving manifold. It is recommended that shipowners also
take their own commercial samples at the ships receiving manifold, which is also the custody
transfer point. The shipowner has three principal sampling options
install a manual spot-sampling device
install a manual in-line continuous drip sampler

install an automatic continuous drip sampler which can be either set up to give a flowproportional sample or a time-proportional sample.

Taking a sample by continuous drip at the receiving vessels manifold has long been
recognised as being the most representative sample of the fuel supplied. An automatic or
manual continuous drip sampling method is therefore recommended.
The volume of the representative sample should be agreed prior to the start of bunkering

and should be sufficient to provide an adequate volume for both commercial and statutory
MARPOL sample requirements. When bunkering has been completed, the sample is taken from
the receiving container, typically a 5 l container, and divided into sample bottles to fulfil commercial
and mandatory sampling requirements.

In the past, a shipowner would typically divide the continuous drip sample into three or
more samples, with one being retained on board, one being given to the bunker supplier and
the third being sent for testing. Now however, with the requirement for a MARPOL sample,

most prudent shipowners split the continuous drip sample into at least four samples so, if
there is a quality dispute, they can test one of the samples retained on board without causing
problems (the MARPOL sample cannot be used for this purpose). If bunkering in Singapore,
the Singapore Standard for Bunkering requires five samples to be taken if the vessel is on a
fuel quality testing programme (or four if it is not).
As mentioned previously, authorised representatives from the ship, barge or shore and, if

appointed, the independent bunker surveyor should agree the location and sampling device
and then witness the sample being taken and transferred from the receiving container to
individual sample bottles.

It is of utmost importance that the bulk sample is thoroughly mixed before it is poured
into sub-sample bottles and that each sample bottle is only filled a little at a time. If this is not
done, the sub-samples will have different quality characteristics and this will cause confusion

when the sub-samples are tested. Shipowners must be able to demonstrate the
source of any samples and how they were obtained to show that they fully represent the fuel oil
loaded. Shipowners should routinely take samples of all fuel oil loaded it is particularly
difficult to gather such evidence retrospectively. Routine sampling and collection of accurate and
appropriate records will also provide evidence that the ship and its crew have regularly adopted
industry best practice. In the event of problematic fuel oil being loaded or fuel oil problems
becoming apparent when engines are running, it may be necessary to undertake post- bunkering
sampling. This usually requires sampling from three different levels in the tanks.
Any fuel oil sampling should be done in a steady and methodical manner and the sample bottles
should be clearly labelled, sealed and preserved. All samples should be treated with care if they
are to provide the evidence bunker quality disputes require