The use of Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) approved mass-flow-meter (MFM) systems when delivering heavy fuel oil became mandatory in Singapore in 2017. The move followed a two-year introduction phase. The intention was to eliminate dishonest practices and quantity disputes. Goodbye to frothy ‘cappuccino’ bunkers or arguments over whether those last few tonnes really did get into the vessel’s tanks.
Or as the MPA put it at the time: “The use of the MFM system will enhance transparency in the bunkering process, improve operational efficiency and increase the productivity of the bunkering industry.”
Broadly speaking the move has been seen as effective in enhancing the reputation of the world’s biggest bunker port. The mandatory use of MFM systems was expanded to all deliveries of distillates with effect from 1 July, 2019.
There have been attempts to trick the MFM readings, and the MPA has cracked down hard when these have been discovered. It said last year that it took “a serious view of any attempt to jeopardise the integrity of the MFM and will not hesitate to take immediate and firm action against those who do so”.
It has followed through with its threat. In May last year MPA issued a statement including the following: “During a recent enforcement check, MPA found that Southernpec had failed to ensure that its employees comply with the terms and conditions of their licence. Its employees engaged in bunker malpractices, which include the use of magnets to interfere with the mass flow meter during bunkering operations. Its cargo officers also did not record the information in the bunkering documents accurately, which breached the terms and conditions of its bunker supplier licence.” Consequently, MPA said: “Southernpec will cease to operate as a bunker supplier in the Port of Singapore.”
Another company, Inter-Pacific Petroleum, received the same treatment towards the end of the year. The message to anybody thinking of subverting the system has been
very clear. It is not worth it.
The original move to MFM use was underpinned by Singapore’ Standards Council Technical Reference TR 48:2015. Now that standard is being replaced by Enterprises Singapore SS 648:2019 – Code of Practice of Mass Flow Meter Bunkering, which was launched in November 2019. Unlike TR 48, the new standard applies to distillates as well heavy fuel oil. The MPA said this was because it expected distillates volumes to increase considerably when the IMO 0.50% sulphur limit came into force.
SS 648 has been developed by the Working Group (WG) on Mass Flow Metering which consists of expert members from the oil majors, bunker suppliers, shipowners, Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), IBIA, testing laboratories, bunker surveying companies, meter vendors and supporting vendors, National Metrology Centre (NMC), Enterprise Singapore’s Weights and Measures Office, and Maritime and
Port Authority of Singapore (MPA).
The WG was appointed by the national Technical Committee (TC) on Bunkering under the Singapore Standardisation Programme administered by Enterprise Singapore (ESG) and is supported by the Standards Development Organisation at Singapore Chemical Industry Council.
The WG prepared a draft SS with inputs from the industry gathered from three feedback sessions with key stakeholder groups (bunker surveyors, bunker suppliers/bunker craft operators, bunker buyers) that were organised in late 2017. The draft SS also incorporated inputs from a public consultation.
Enterprise Singapore says: “The broad representation from public, private sector and other stakeholders as well as robust stakeholder engagement through the national standardisation platform enable the stakeholders to collectively shape the development and implementation of the standard in line with national needs and international developments. The requirements are reviewed in the updates of the standard and the decision by consensus based processes help the industry to upgrade and adopt the latest industry practices.”
It is expected that SS 648 will come into force on 1 July this year. IBIA played a major role in preparing the industry for the initial roll-out of MFM systems under TR 48 and subsequent continued training for those in the industry. Now IBIA is in the process of obtaining MPA approval to be an authorised course provider for SS 648:2019.
Singapore has encouraged the international use of TR 48 and, now, SS 648. They are being used as base standards by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as it develops two new standards: ISO 22192 Bunkering of marine fuel using the Coriolis mass flow meter system, and ISO 21562 Bunker fuel mass flow meters on receiving vessel. Enterprise Singapore says: “The internationalisation of SS 648 helps to encourage the harmonisation of best practices and increase operational efficiency of shipping industry.”
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