The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) welcomes the efforts of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to ensure the integrity of the mass flow meter (MFM) systems that are mandatory for the supply of marine fuel oil (MFO) in the port.
News emerged last week that the MPA has temporarily suspended the harbour craft licences of five bunker tankers operated by Panoil Petroleum Pte Ltd. while investigating irregularities found on their piping fixtures.
An MPA spokesman told IBIA that the authority conducts regular spot checks on bunker tankers. “MPA will continue with our checks on bunker tankers to ensure compliance to the requirements set out in the Technical Reference for Bunker Mass Flow Metering (TR48).”
Since the start of the year, only bunker barges with MPA approved MFM systems are allowed to supply MFO to ships taking bunkers in the port. The MPA has emphasised that the technology will enhance efficiency compared to bunker deliveries using manual methods for measuring delivered quantity.
Equally important, however, is that requiring barges to use tamper-proof, MPA-approved MFM systems should enhance transparency of the bunkering process, providing accurate and reliable measurements of delivered quantity.
Bunker sales in Singapore totalled 4.46 million metric tonnes in January 2017, the highest ever for any month, according to MPA data. Sales for the first two months of 2017 are up 8% year-on-year, which may indicate that buyers find the MFM mandate reassuring.
IBIA believes that Singapore’s mandatory MFM requirement will help create a level playing field in the port, as it should reduce the risk of quantity-related malpractices.
But for the regulation to be effective, it must also be effectively enforced, and that includes monitoring and taking action against any attempt to circumvent it. It is reassuring that the MPA is keeping a close eye on barges to ensure the integrity of MFM systems isn’t undermined.
MPA says it will not hesitate to take action against any bunkering malpractices in the port of Singapore, and any licensee found to have contravened any terms and conditions of the licence will have their licence either suspended or cancelled.
Although the Singapore requirement means the MFM volume reading is binding, bunker surveyors still have a role to play. They can help ship operators ensure all the relevant checks are performed when receiving bunkers via MFM approved barges, and help document any potential irregularities that may compromise the integrity of the MFM system. IBIA has developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to help bunker surveyors identify their responsibilities when overseeing bunker deliveries involving MFMs in Singapore, and IBIA’s Singapore branch provides relevant training courses for surveyors.
The SOP is an example of IBIA’s ongoing efforts to work with all parts of the bunker supply chain to encourage best practices and raise industry standards.