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NorthStandard: Increased risk of significant customs fines for incorrect bunker declarations

Custom fines over EUR 1 million are being reported in Senegal regarding allegedly incorrect declarations of any property on the ship including any apparent bunker shortages.




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Global marine insurer NorthStandard on Tuesday (9 May) released an article on custom fines over EUR 1 million are being reported in, Senegal and the port of Dakar, in particular regarding allegedly incorrect declarations of any property on the ship (including any apparent bunker shortages), crew and cargo:

The situation has become more challenging as the grounds on which fines are levied have become increasingly diverse and the amount of the fines imposed are reaching high levels.

Ships calling at Dakar may be subjected to customs fines and/or detention for any alleged inaccuracies in documents and declarations.  Examples include the following:

  • Deficits in the cargo manifest (including goods to be discharged in Dakar, as well as any cargo in transit);
  • Errors in the bills of lading;
  • Incorrect list of ports of call;
  • Errors in the crew list;
  • Errors in the list of crew personal effects;
  • Incorrect inventory of the bonded store;
  • Failure to declare the correct amount of food supplies, paint, or chemicals on board;
  • Failure to have the required number of fire extinguishers on board;
  • Failure to declare the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and foam concentrate contained within the vessel’s fixed fire extinguishing systems;
  • Failure to declare the quantity of “used oil”, including fuel oil contained within piping, lube oil contained in the engine sump tank and pumps, hydraulic oil in pressure tanks for windlass and winches, etc.; and,
  • Failures in the bunker declaration form, such as incorrectly detailing quantities of lube oil, diesel oil and fuel oil or quantities contained in tanks (including sump tanks), drums, cans and sludge.

The customs authorities closely examine the ship’s documents and declarations and check these against the actual cargo and/or property on board the ship by taking their own soundings and carrying out their own inspections.  Strict penalties are imposed in accordance with the local Customs Code if any discrepancies are found. Even minor errors such as typos, incorrect use of capital letters and misplaced commas are attracting substantial fines.  Acting in good faith is not accepted as an excuse.

It is also common for the customs authorities to impose customs fines where there is any shortage or excess of bagged, liquid or bulk cargo discharged from the ship. These fines are calculated based on the quantity and/or number of bags or weight recorded by a surveyor appointed by the customs authorities.  However, the tallies of bagged cargoes are usually made ashore alongside the ship before the cargo is loaded onto trucks rather than in the cargo holds.

Fines can also be imposed by the immigration authorities for errors in the crew list, passenger list, ports of call list (previous and next ports), and stowaways list (if any). Even spelling errors have led to penalties being imposed in the past.  However, these fines are less common and are usually not substantial.

In the light of this increase in fines, the club’s local correspondents recommend that members and masters take the following precautions:

  • Before arriving in the port, members should consult local agents for the latest requirements;
  • Complete the customs declaration before arriving in the port;
  • Ensure that all the items listed above including personal belongings of crew, food, ship’s stores, fire extinguishers, CO2, bunkers, and paint are accurately described in the declaration;
  • Ensure that all crewmembers’ passports are valid, and the seamen’s books are correctly filled and updated;
  • Prepare a file containing all the relevant documents and ask the vessel’s agent to come on board to check same before the customs officers arrive;
  • The master and the ship’s agent should personally receive customs officers and should carry out the formalities on board in their presence;
  • Ensure that any modification to the manifest has been made correctly;
  • Do not sign any document from the customs authorities which you do not fully understand;
  • Avoid attempting to argue or negotiate with the customs officers as they may well interpret any such efforts as an attempt to corrupt state officials, which is a punishable offence;
  • In order to minimise any exposure to fines for cargo shortages, a draft survey or tally of bagged cargoes should be carried out with all parties invited to attend; and,
  • Contact the club and a P&I correspondent for assistance in case of need; this can aid in possibly having the fine reduced and provide notice to the club in the event security needs to be supplied to release the ship.

In the event that a fine is or is likely to be imposed, the member should contact the club and the local correspondent immediately.  The local correspondent can review the fine and attempt to negotiate a reduction.  If the fine is not agreed prior to the ship departing, a bank guarantee or ‘promissory letter’ from the local correspondents is usually required.  It is therefore important to engage the club and local correspondent as soon as possible following any incident.

The International Group is currently working with the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) on a resolution.


Photo credit: Shaah Shahidh on Unsplash
Published: 15 May, 2023

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VPS launches Maress Summer Campaign Dashboard to track progress of vessels

Dashboard will enable the maritime industry to follow the development of its maritime emissions saving campaign, Maress Summer Campaign 2024, which is aimed at saving 15,000 tons of CO2.





VPS launches Maress Summer Campaign Dashboard to track progress of vessels

Marine fuels testing company VPS on Thursday (20 June) said it launched its Maress Campaign Dashboard to enable the maritime industry to follow the development of its maritime emissions saving campaign for this year.

It said the Maress Summer Campaign 2024, which started on 1 June and will run for 90 days, is ongoing and is aimed at achieving the goal of saving 15,000 tons of CO2.

“Since our last update, the number of participating vessels has increased from 278 to 303. This is more than doubling of the vessels that participated in the campaign last year,” VPS said in a social media post.

“The industry-wide effort to drive decarbonisation is showing fantastic results, with innovative initiatives and remarkable engagement from vessels across the board.”

It added the main purpose of the campaign is to create collaboration and awareness around emission reductions. 

“This industry-first tool is now open for everyone in the industry to track the collective progress. Updated daily, it provides a transparent and exciting view of the leaders in each category, showcasing the close race towards efficiency gains,” VPS said on the dashboard.

Note: The new dashboard by VPS for the Maress Summer Campaign 2024 can be found here.

Related: VPS to organise Maress Decarbonisation Campaign in 2024
Related: VPS wins OSJ Annual Environment Award 2024 for Maress Summer Campaign
Related: VPS records 10,000 tonnes of CO2 emission cut from campaign with top OSV players
Related: VPS Decarbonisation to kickstart summer campaign to reduce shipping emissions


Photo credit: VPS
Published: 21 June, 2024

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UECC reduces emissions in 2023 by more than doubling bio bunker fuel use

UECC boosted the use of ISCC-certified sustainable biofuel B100 on both owned and time-chartered ships to 14,000 mt last year, up from 6,500 mt in 2022.






United European Car Carriers (UECC) recently announced its progress of using alternative bunker fuels and said it was on track to exceed its goal of a 45% emissions reduction by 2030 after more than doubling biofuel usage across its fleet last year.

UECC boosted the use of ISCC-certified sustainable biofuel B100 on both owned and time-chartered ships to 14,000 metric tonnes (mt) last year, up from 6,500 mt in 2022.

The company achieved a total tank-to-wake emissions reduction of over 60,000 tonnes across its 14-vessel fleet in 2023, of which it is estimated increased biofuel use accounted for 40,000 tonnes, with the remainder coming from LNG. This was a near-250% increase on the emissions cut of 24,200 tonnes achieved in 2022.

TheEuropean sustainable shortsea carrier said it has made significant strides in decarbonisation of its fleet of pure car and truck carriers (PCTCs) with the addition of five LNG-fuelled newbuilds and the increased rollout of biofuels in recent years - and this is now showing commercial payback for clients in the light of new green regulations, according to Energy and Sustainability Manager Daniel Gent.

“Consequently, we are well on the way to reach or exceed our 45% emissions reduction target by 2030. This clearly has a positive impact for those bio-supportive cargo owners in terms of reducing costs related to the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS),” Gent said.

“Furthermore, 85% of the vessels in our fleet achieved a C-rating last year with the IMO’s Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) and this year we expect all our ships to achieve this rating or above.”

Gent also pointed out the UECC fleet is already in surplus in relation to the requirement for an average 14.5% reduction in GHG intensity by 2035 under the FuelEU Maritime regulation due to be implemented next year.

The environmental performance of UECC’s current fleet of nine owned and five time-chartered PCTCs has been enhanced through delivery over the past seven years of five eco-friendly newbuilds - a pair of dual-fuelled LNG vessels and trio of multi-fuel LNG battery hybrid units.

The use of LNG reduces emissions of CO2 by around 25%, SOx and particulate matter by 90% and NOx by 85%, while the latest battery hybrid newbuilds exceed the IMO target to reduce carbon intensity by at least 40% from 2008 levels by 2030.

UECC is now looking at sourcing alternative carbon-neutral fuels such as bio-LNG and e-LNG for these vessels to further improve their green performance, according to Gent.

UECC’s adoption of alternative fuels has expanded exponentially since the programme was launched in 2020 with piloting the use of biofuel on its vessel Autosky, bolstered by valuable support from owners of its time-chartered vessels, clients such as BMW, fuel suppliers like GoodFuels, industry partners, and parent companies NYK and Wallenius Lines.

“We are now in the fifth year of running our biofuels programme and it has gone from strength to strength. UECC has sought to take a leading role through early-stage analysis of new biofuels to evaluate their potential in terms of technical suitability, sustainability and commercial viability, both  to deliver the best solution for our customers and give the sector a blueprint for assessment and adoption of such fuels based on these three pillars,” Gent explained.

He added that, in terms of sustainability criteria, the company looks for biofuels with the biggest environmental impact, with a typical minimum 90% reduction in GHG intensity from well-to-wake compared with conventional marine fuels. 

UECC has steadily expanded the use of green fuels to cover 30% of its fleet in 2023, up from 18% in 2022, and is on track to achieve 50% coverage this year towards the goal of 80% by 2030, though Gent is confident of surpassing this figure.

He said being proactive in trialling new alternative fuels has also promoted engagement with fuel providers, which has led to UECC’s latest initiative together with biofuel supplier ACT Group as part of an industry collaboration to test the Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL)-based biofuel FS.100 that he believes has “great potential for sustainable shipping”.

“Increasing the pool of sustainable drop-in fuels offers a pathway for shipping to achieve rapid emissions cuts on existing vessels. Combining alternative fuels with energy efficiency measures such as hull cleaning and electrification with shore power can further accelerate decarbonisation,” Gent said.

“By progressively advancing the use of alternative fuels, we are reducing emissions exposure for our clients and securing regulatory compliance long into the future, while also promoting industry efforts to reach the net-zero goal,” he concluded.


Photo credit: United European Car Carriers
Published: 21 June, 2024

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LNG Bunkering

CMA CGM takes delivery of fourth LNG-fuelled containership

Naming ceremony and delivery of vessel, organised at HD Hyundai Mipo in Ulsan, South Korea, marked entry of the fourth vessel in a series of ten specially designed for Northern Europe feeder services.





CMA CGM takes delivery of fourth LNG-fuelled containership

French shipping giant on Wednesday (19 June) said it celebrated the naming ceremony and delivery of its fourth LNG-fuelled container ship, CMA CGM Tivoli.

Organised at HD Hyundai Mipo in Ulsan, South Korea, on 16 June, the event marked the official entry of the fourth vessel in a series of ten specially designed for Northern Europe feeder services.

“Featuring optimised features for 45-foot containers, increased capacity for refrigerated containers, and innovative forward accommodation to enhance cargo loading and aerodynamics, CMA CGM Tivoli distinguishes itself with a high ‘length to beam" ratio to maximise hydrodynamic efficiency,” the firm said in a social media post. 

“She departed the shipyard on June 15th, 2024, bound for Busan. We wish fair winds and smooth seas to Captain Artur Dumbrov and his crew.” 


Photo credit: CMA CGM
Published: 21 June, 2024

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