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Bunkering Port in Chabahar Free Zone

Bunkering Port in Chabahar Free Zone

Bunkering Port in Chabahar Free Zone



Transporting cargo overseas is increasing in popularity. Because of this, ships are constantly getting bigger. This causes problems for the ports. Ports can only handle a certain amount of cargo at a time. Therefore, bigger ships remain in ports for a longer time. This causes port congestion. The effect is even worse when vessels need to enter the port specifically for bunkering. With the current way of bunkering, vessels need to enter the port and berth. Due to this, other vessels have to wait for a berthing place to load and/or unload. A part of this congestion can be prevented if vessels can bunker at sea, instead of while at berth.

Some ports already use bunkering at sea. Bunkering at sea with two separate vessels can be dangerous, especially in rough weather conditions. So, therefore, an innovative solution should be invented.

The shipping industry became very energy and capital-focused with the development of containerization and usage of containers ships. In such an industry fuel could be considered one of the most critical costs where the fuel may be as high as 50% of the carrier’s cost. Bunker fuel started to be used in the shipping industry increased in the 1950s as it is the primary power source for the vessel engine.

With the increasing, consumption of fossil fuels, the Middle East region has become one of the important and key regions for providing energy in the world. Every year thousands of ships are entering the Persian Gulf and Oman Gulf and this issue has made heavy traffic in these marine areas.



In the shipping world, we hear the bunker term a lot as it is one of the main costs that the carriers incur. Bunker fuel is a primary type of fuel oil used aboard ships. Compared to the other petroleum products, it is crude and highly polluting. In the days of steam, there were coal bunkers but now they are replaced with bunker fuel tanks. In the simplest and crudest of terms, bunker fuel is leftover after refineries have processed all the more valuable fuels from the crude source. It is thick and heavy; must be heated before it can be used in the vessels’ engine. It is difficult to store and transport as well, therefore it is mostly stored at major ports or some refineries close to the port.

Bunkering is the supply of fuel for use by ships in a seaport. The term originated in the days of steamships, when the fuel, coal, was stored in bunkers. Nowadays the term bunker is generally applied to the storage of petroleum products in tanks and the practice and business of refuelling ships. Bunkering operations are located at seaports, and they include the storage of “bunker” (ship) fuels and the provision of the fuel to vessels. Bunkering includes the shipboard logistics of loading fuel and distributing it among available “bunkers” (onboard fuel tanks).



Iran, in terms of geographical location, is in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf and Oman gulf. Easy access to free seas and pass of many oil tankers and cargo ships from the strait of Hormuz made Iran in a spectacular position. Establishing suitable infrastructures and long-term planning could transform this potential to actualization.

Chabahar is Iran’s only ocean-related port which is located on the shore of Oman Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Its bay has the capacity for landing ocean liners and it is also a free trade zone of Iran. Chabahar port has an important role due to its strategic location which is the nearest way of access to freshwater for surrounded countries in central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan).


Fuel Types

Marine fuels are traditionally classified according to their kinematic viscosity. This is a valid criterion for oil quality as long as the oil is produced by atmospheric distillation only. Today, almost all marine fuels are based on fractions from more advanced refinery processes and the viscosity itself says little about the oil’s quality as fuel. Despite this, marine fuels are still quoted on the international bunker markets with their maximum viscosity set by ISO 8217 as marine engines are designed to use different viscosities of fuel. The density is also an important parameter for fuel oils since marine fuels are purified before use to remove water and dirt. Therefore, the oil must have a density that is sufficiently different from water.

There are two types of bunker fuel oil:

Residual fuel: available in varying viscosities and high and low sulphur variants.

Distillate fuel: marine diesel and gas oil.

Residual fuels are a mix of refinery residual fuel and distillates blended to meet specification requirements.

Distillate Fuel (which is a product obtained by condensing the vapours distilled from petroleum crude oil or its products) comes in two variants and again, both are available with varying levels of sulphur content:

Marine Gasoil (MGO): clear and not containing any residual component

Marine Diesel Oil (MDO): essentially a distillate fuel that may contain a small amount of residual component.

IFO (Intermediate Fuel Oil): a blend of MGO and HFO, with less gasoil than MDO

MFO (Medium Fuel Oil): a blend of MGO and HFO, with less gasoil than IFO

HFO (Heavy Fuel Oil): a residual fuel oil