How to build your line of defence against fuel claims
In a tough market the charter party can become an expensive document for the vessel owner, if the performance criteria (typically fuel oil consumption at defined speeds and drafts at fair weather) are not met. Operators are under financial pressure and claim overconsumption if possible.
So what can an owner do now to build his line of defence and keep a good record of their Log books/Noon books against fuel claims:
1. Have an own performance management system
To have own performance data available in high quality, i.e. consistent, plausible, complete, is probably the best defence against fuel claims. It helps you to defend not justified claims and will over time also be reduce them as the operator knows you are prepared. If your data comprise more than speed, consumption, draft and weather (what I would call voyage performance data), but also give you indication on causes, like hull & propeller, trim, engine & systems or fuel quality you can also improve your performance and move your speed – consumption curve downwards.
Traditionally weather and draft are key conditions to a speed – consumption agreement in a charter party. Have you thought about putting fuel quality as another condition. Here the energy content, typically something around 41 MJ/kg plays a role. As you consume mass but get propulsion from energy a fuel with low energy content might lead to overconsumption. The accurate energy content you get from your fuel testing provider.
3. Have an “objective” weather source available
Weather reporting from crew is a difficult animal. Despite difficulties to assess the dominant weather 40m above sea level on the bridge, weather reporting is acknowledged to follow commercial interests (due to the charter party). Although in jurisdiction, log book are preferred, if there is a discrepancy in the data between the weather routing company and the log books, weather still remains a typical discussion point. To have an own satellite weather source available for wind, but also waves and current, has a high value in fuel claim discussions. The operator will come also with one of his weather routing provider.
4. Be prepared to project consumptions in not yet sailed conditions
What happens if your charter department wants to close a contract with speed or draft conditions you have not sailed in and have no proper data for. While at a lower speed you might just go along a virtual “exponent 3” curve, the impact of lower or higher draft is hard to assess. If you are too optimistic, the next fuel claim is on the horizon, if too pessimistic the contract will go to another owner. There are ways using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to build a proper power demand vessel for your model and wrap this into a FOC simulator for your vessel.
All these features are part of our ECO Insight fleet performance management system and readily available for our customers to help building your line of defence against fuel claims.