AMSA Safety Alert: Petrol Vapours

AMSA Safety Alert: Petrol Vapours

Risks associated with explosion due to the accumulation of petrol vapours

Posted on 20.09.2019

Risk factors

Petrol vapours are denser than air so any petrol leaks or vapours can accumulate in a vessel’s bilge, or in low parts of a cabin if the area is not properly ventilated. When petrol vapours mix with air within a specific concentration range, the mixture becomes explosive.

Exposure of accumulated petrol vapours to an ignition source may result in an explosion and fire with potentially catastrophic consequences. Potential ignition sources include:

  • smoking, naked flames or pilot lights
  • communication equipment eg mobile phones
  • portable electrical equipment
  • fixed electrical systems
  • hot work eg welding, grinding and cutting
  • hot surfaces eg exhaust pipes, flues, and ducting
  • static electricity
  • sparks generated by mechanical means eg hammers and other hand tools.

Vessels with non-compliant or poorly maintained fuel systems are at a greater risk of explosion or catching fire than those that are compliant and well maintained.



Petrol vapours are extremely volatile and are likely to explode when they come into contact with an ignition source.

For the safety of passengers and crew, it is essential the risk of explosion due to petrol vapours is managed through compliance with applicable technical standards, regular periodic inspections and safe operational practices.





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