Low Flashpoint Fuel – The Legal/Commercial Impact


The commercial & legal aspects of storing and using a bunker fuel with a low flashpoint.


We are presenting this write-up to throw light on the commercial/legal aspects when your vessel carries a Low flash point fuel on board.  This is based on a request from one of the MFAME’s valuable readers.

Low Flashpoint is a matter of serious concern since it affects the safety of the vessel.

First of all, there are no compromises or permitted variation in the Flashpoint which has to be at 60 deg C or above.  It is not possible to argue that 58 deg C is only 2 deg C less and within the permitted variation of the flashpoint instrument.  This argument is not accepted under SOLAS either.

From Class point of view, if the fuel is stored in a ship’s tank, this could affect the Class of the vessel adversely.  The Class society can downgrade the Class level or even withdraw the Class and this would increase the insurance costs several times for the vessel owner.

What happens if you accept the fuel and the vessel is sailing and the low flashpoint information reaches the ship?

There are two important urgent actions that need to be taken –

  1.  Sometimes a small quantity of lighter fractions can bring down the flashpoint of the whole fraction below 60 deg C.  Taking precautions and venting the tank carefully while not allowing anything hot or inflammable near the tank, the lighter fractions which may be a very small quantity will evaporate away.  Under these conditions, Flashpoint will be restored to 60 deg C or above.
  2. If the flashpoint is really low, the above will not work and all precautions should be taken to make sure that the vapor above the liquid is not vented or is not coming in contact with any hotspots.  The tank can also be pressed up to eliminate the vapor space.  Heating of the tank should be reduced and controlled.

Every insured vessel is required to take all the precautions failing which the insurance company can deny the claim.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to comment or write to us.