The demand for bunker oil has risen sharply over the past few years owing to the increase in shipping traffic. The term 'bunker oil' combines heating oil for steam boilers and the fuel needed to operate a ship's diesel engines. Seeing as Mabanaft Nord has a tank terminal in Kiel right on the Kiel Canal, which is then the busiest shipping lane, the company starts up the bunkering business.
On the whole, bunker stations could be compared to tank terminals for international shipping. They have tanks for every type of heating oil. A boiler house provides the steam needed to keep the oil pumpable and to operate the pumps, provided they are not electric pumps. The bunker stations are designed to accommodate a tanker's full load. There are land-based and floating bunker stations. The shipping industry's demand for bunker oil is considerable. The kind of bunker oil required depends not only on the ship's engine type, but also on the arrangement and equipment of the oil bunker, the bunker oil pipes found on the ship and the pumping system. Gas oil, which is sold from the Kiel station, is mostly used by small ships to run their engines while larger vessels burnt heavier oils.
Contact to the shipping companies and brokers is important for the bunkering business. They tell Mabanaft which ships travel the Kiel Canal when, and what fuel they burn. Employees of Mabanaft contact the ships as soon as they reach the Kiel lighthouse and ask them whether they want to bunker with the company. If the answer is yes, the ship moors in the Scheerhafen, the staff connects the hoses on board and starts pumping.