Fuel Detection & Monitoring

Fuel theft onboard vessels has been something the marine industry decided to live with from inception until recently when technology emanated. We are going to briefly highlight the most used techniques by the crew onboard vessels to steal fuel, plus most selling techniques they also use to sell off the stolen fuel.

Method Of Fuel Theft

  1. During Major operation:- Let’s take a supply vessel for example, during an operation in a field where the vessel is asked to supply fuel on other vessels like the anchor boats, the engineers tend to report outrageous figures on fuel consumed during such operations, as the vessel is sent to move from one point to another on that day. The fuel concealed are then kept either in the same fuel tank or moved to another tank.


2. Fabrication of a magic Tank Inside main tanks: – Some cases, the engineers onboard fabricate what we call the Magic pipe or Tank and have it tightly fitted inside an actual tank . The bottom end of the magic tank is closed and the pipe-like tank  is pushed through the fuel to the bottom of the tank. during sounding, the tank thus appears empty or gives false sounding report. This is possible but not on all vessels.

Method of Storing Stolen Fuel

  1. The use of Idle tanks and Ballast tanks :- Onboard vessels, most crew collaborate with the engine room crew, AB’s and Deck officers and even some times clients rep, as the case may be. The engineer(s) onboard sometimes use hoses to transfer fuel from the original tank to a void tank where no one will ever dream of; most times an idle tank( Void tank), ballast tank or sewage loop tank depending on the kind of vessel.

Method of Selling Off Concealed Fuel

From our experience as a fuel detective in the industry, there are about 2 major ways used by the crew onboard vessels to sell off concealed fuel.

  1. Through Fuel transfer:- For instance, when supply vessel is sent to a fuel dispatching/sales company ashore to lift fuel to offshore, let’s say 100,000Ltrs of fuel, The supply vessel’s crew collaborates with the fuel dispatching company’s personnel to help them to either buy their stolen fuel or sell it for them. This is how the fuel is transferred in this instance:

Remember the vessel is sent to go lift 100,000ltrs of fuel, and let’s say the total stolen fuel quantity is 20,000ltrs. The fuel dispatching personnel transfers 80,000ltrs of fuel less 20,000ltrs in their custody. This means the vessel’s crew have actually transferred the 20,000ltrs unknowingly to both the vessel owners and the management of  the fuel sales company. At the end, money will exchange hands either in cash or via online bank transfer.

  1. Vessel to Vessel Fuel transfer:- This is a method where a vessel like the anchor vessel transfers her stolen fuel to a supply vessel to help them sell it off ashore. This method is almost the same with the method 1. Again, let’s assume an anchor vessel that is stationed in a field for anchor jobs conceals some fuel and wants to dispatch them off. They make use of a nearby supply vessel probably working with them. During this time, the supply vessel is asked to transfer fuel to the anchor vessel, the anchor vessel receives less the actual quantity she was meant to get in agreement with the supply vessel’s crew. again, money exchanges hands at the end via online transfer, bank deposit or cash.

How To detect Concealed Fuel

– We have experts and trustworthy fuel detective or surveyor  in this field.

– Our Personnel understands how Nigerian mariners operate and how they conceal fuel on vessels

– Our Personnel are conversant with vessel’s chart/drawing that indicates all tank locations on the vessel and what each of the tanks are meant for.

– Our Personnel is ready to get hands dirty and make sure that all tanks are virtually inspected, be it Fuel Oil tank, water tank, idle tank/ void tank or sewage      loop tank.

– Our Personnel will ensure to liaise with the vessel management to ensure the tank gauging and sounding tapes are okay.

–  Our Personnel will see/ listen to the sounds of the sounding rod when it reaches the tank base.

– Our Personnel will go through the daily fuel log books to compare fuel consumption.

– Our Personnel will read the sounding table/chart and interpret it into acceptable figures during reporting and lots more.




  1. It’s highly recommended that all vessels ready to monitor their vessel fuel consumption in real-time should install a Satellite internet onboard their vessels and not the local ISP’s that only works ashore and some few offshore locations. Once there is a satellite internet installed, it is recommended that such vessel should install an automated vessel tracker to monitor fuel consumption in real-time. we can help you with that as well if need be.
  2. If you cannot install a satellite internet onboard, at-least have a semi-automated online fuel monitoring reporting system.

For this, before you have this setup; you will need to have a fuel detective or surveyor to go onboard the vessel, do all the above mentioned fuel detecting due diligence to recover some fuel or at-least know the actual and accurate daily fuel consumption of the vessel and then begin with the online fuel monitoring.


Please click the following links to see how the semi-automated online fuel monitoring system works:


Link1: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1RbOfPCgSEmCixJh-X4ZFNcLWw5YbucRFmMPd62zxf3M/edit?usp=sharing


Link2: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1uGXR3zCYIU_D6Lg-sHM6udZsJjLDsKBUvMyIWgcgxMw/edit?usp=sharing


Link3: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wAFX-G3JlQxQDTgLOBOlGJLuCjv2OeWtjccih5cfA7o/edit?usp=sharing


The above links shows some job we did during a pipe laying operation for Kaztec Engineering Ltd and Addax Petroleum on Addax field some years back using the online fuel monitoring software where the report inputted online is seen by all vessel owners ashore automatically as the data are being inputted.


For this, the daily reports are collated from each vessel working for the above mentioned companies and everyone irrespective of their locations were having real time access to the daily fuel reports as they are inputted.


The reason I asked our client to recommend this to Addax and Kaztec then and it was due to similar issues; fuel theft and inaccurate daily reports.


Once, the crew knows you are checkmating them, their stealing habit reduces drastically, especially if the true daily consumption of the vessel was gotten from the vessel and it is used to commence the monitoring process.

Note: No system on the planet can guarantee you 100% fuel theft prevention as far as marine operation is concern, but only reduces the habit.


Contact us today for your vessel fuel monitoring.

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