Bunker fuel

Also known as: Bunker, Bunkers

Bunker fuel is any fuel used on board a ship.

The most commonly used type is residual fuel oil bunker or Bunker C.

Grades of Bunker fuel

  • Bunker A - Gasoil range bunker fuel, typically called marine diesel or marine gasoil
  • Bunker B - Low-viscosity vac resid range bunker fuel. Typically cut with some lighter material (VGO) to reduce viscosity to the point that it will flow without heating
  • Bunker C - The most common form of bunker. Composed primarily of vac resid range material, with a high viscosity that requires heating in order to pump. Typically sold at several viscosity specifications: 180 centistoke, 380 centistoke, or 460 centistoke, with 380 being the most common grade. The viscosities are measured at 50C, the typical heated temperature of the fuel

In addition, the bunker fuel which can be used in the Sulfur Emissions Control Areas (SECAs) must have a maximum sulfur content of 0.1%, which requires either using Bunker A or a Ultra Low Sulfur Fuel Oil (ULSFO). SECAs currently include the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the English Channel, and the area up to 200 nautical miles off the North American coast plus a zone in the Caribbean.

From January 1st, 2020, bunker fuels used globally outside the SECA regions will be restricted to having a maximum sulfur content of 0.5%.

The Refinery Reference Desk includes content derived from our industry experts as well as from public data sources such as company websites. Nothing herein is intended to serve as investment advice. This material is based on information that we believe to be reliable and adequately comprehensive, but we do not represent that such information is in all respects accurate or complete. McKinsey Energy Insights does not accept any liability for any losses resulting from use of the content.



McKinsey uses cookies to improve site functionality, provide you with a better browsing experience, and to enable our partners to advertise to you. Detailed information on the use of cookies on this Site, and how you can decline them, is provided in our cookie policy. By using this Site or clicking on "OK", you consent to the use of cookies.