Shipowners continue to regard Singapore as one of their preferred destinations, demonstrated by recent Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) data showing bunker sales growing approximately 5% year on year to 12.7 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2020.
Developing Singapore’s leading position has been possible due to the initiatives of local pioneers who introduced and adopted standardised bunker delivery procedures in the early 1990s. These procedures have been crucial for supporting further growth of Singapore’s bunkering industry, while maintaining its title as the world’s largest bunkering port.
The Singapore mandate for the use of mass flow metering (MFM) systems to measure bunker fuel at Singapore port from 2017 builds upon the foundation laid down by our pioneers. It is clear MFM bunkering technology provides both bunker buyers and suppliers better quantity assurance of bunker fuel delivered.Following the Singapore example, MFM systems for bunkering have been accepted globally by bunker stakeholders, according to a recent study conducted by the Singapore Standards Development Partner – the Singapore Chemical Industry Committee.
In Singapore the use of MFM systems for bunkering has now entered into the next development phase for maintaining measurement integrity. We are currently focusing on the physical maintenance and measurement performance verification aspects of the MFM system to ensure measurement consistency.
Challenges of maintaining metrological control of bunkering MFM systems for continuous usage
There are two important verifications that are considered critical for maintenance of mass flow meter measurement integrity.
Zero verification is performed more frequently to check on the zero drift, especially when there is a change of bunker fuel grade. The other verification is to test mass flow meter accuracy drift during dynamic flow. This is conducted by either sending it for calibration, or via in-field testing by using a Coriolis mass master meter to ascertain meter compliance with its established requirements and maintain measurement traceability to the International System (SI) unit of kilogram.
Mass flow meter in-field testing is commonly performed annually or more frequently, depending on the measurement criticality of the application. Furthermore, through years of usage in the harsh marine environment, the performance of the mass flow meter will naturally and gradually deteriorate. With the analysis of the measured data, the verification frequency can be adjusted to ascertain the bunkering MFM system’s performance.
The periodic dismantling of the mass flow meter for water re-calibration has left the bunkering market longing for a more economical and practical approach to ensure continuous compliance and metrological control of the MFM bunkering system.
When Technical Reference (TR) 48 was introduced, it indicated the need for meter calibration once every three years from the date of approval. This requirement serves to support the local bunkering industry as it aims to align MFM dismantling with the bunker tanker’s docking schedule.
Metcore’s newly acquired Coriolis mass master meter is poised to enable a traceable and metrological robust method for MFM system re-validation. With its introduction, verification can now be performed on-site without removing the mass flow meter. It will contribute to time and cost savings while ensuring continued trust among stakeholders.
Coriolis Mass Master Meter – A Solution to Current MFM Verification Needs
At present, Singapore employs annual re-validation using a ‘meter in, meter out’ approach which requires the support of another operational bunker tanker – with an operational MFM system – as the test platform. This approach, however, has not always been well received by the industry due to the practical constraints and the additional financial burden.
Alternatively, the Coriolis mass master meter provides obvious direct mass measurement traceability while enabling high efficiency testing.
For the first Coriolis mass master meter system, Metcore worked closely with major meter manufacturer Endress+Hauser on the design to enable accurate testing over the wide range of bunker fuel viscosity and flow profile seen from IMO 2020 compliant fuels. To achieve a high level of traceability and to fulfil legal requirements, it has undergone extensive calibrations using both water and specific fuel oil types.
Measurement results from the calibrations are further validated by NMi Certin BV of The Netherlands which functions as OIML’s appointed Issuing Authority for dynamic measuring system for liquids other than water. Achieving stable flow conditions during verification on a reliable test platform is critical.
Hence, the Metcore Coriolis mass master meter testing system utilises the in-situ testing concept in combination with actual bunker fuel operating condition.
Having the test platform located on a fixed and stable base (i.e. a terminal or port berth) is better than carrying it out on floating platforms (i.e. on launches or bunker vessel) which typically introduce more uncertainty factors into the test and measurement environment.
Metcore’s Coriolis mass master meter, additionally, has received the support of various Singapore terminal and port handlers which permit bunker vessels to undergo re-validation operations alongside the mass master meter set-up at berth.
Retrofitted with measuring devices such as a flow computer, process sensors, communication cables, and supporting equipment for lifting and connection provision, the entire Coriolis mass master meter testing system can be programmed for automated operations to facilitate the analysis of recorded test data as a further step to avoid uncertainties from manual recording.
The associated devices and equipment have been evaluated and certified to the appropriate internationally recognised standards and practices for their intended use in direct mass measurement of bunker fuel and other applicable hydrocarbon liquids.
Combining actual test experiences into operational standards to benefit all
To further reinforce the mass master meter verification concept, testing bodies and bunker stakeholders will soon develop a new standard on meter verification using mass master flow meters. The development of this standard is anticipated to pave the way for a more viable metrological and traceable approach towards supporting bunker tanker operators and the shipping industry alike.
Having a standard for meter verification through the use of mass master meters reinforces the requirements of validating a custody duty meter’s performance periodically as stipulated in the relevant Singapore bunkering standard.
Metcore’s Coriolis mass master meter is expected to revolutionise meter verification in the bunkering industry, in turn supporting other applications utilising mass flow meter technology for measurement in Singapore.
For further information, visit our website – www.metcore.com.sg
Contact one of the World Bunkering team.
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