The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) believes the benefits achieved from adopting mandatory use of Mass Flow Meters (MFMs) for marine fuel oil deliveries in Singapore must be protected by effective enforcement, and that using approved MFMs to measure quantity being loaded onto bunker tankers as well as that delivered to ship would address a missing link in supply chain integrity.
The Singapore regulation that came into effect on 1st January 2017 was widely perceived to be a significant step forward in promoting greater transparency and ensuring the accuracy of delivered tonnage in the port, but it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
IBIA members and other industry stakeholders have shown a great deal of interest in instances where breaches of the MFM regulations have been suspected, such as the temporary suspension in March of the harbour craft licences of five bunker tankers operated by Panoil while authorities investigated irregularities found on their piping fixtures.
IBIA continues to support vigilance and firm action by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and other relevant authorities to deal with suspected irregularities, and considers it important that all proven cases of abuse of the MFM protocol are dealt with as swiftly as possible in order to retain the confidence of the global shipping community in the application of the MFM regulations.
MPA has just announced that it has revoked the bunker craft operator licence of Panoil Petroleum with effect from Monday 14th August 2017 after checks revealed that there had been unauthorised alterations made to pipelines on board the five bunker tankers that had their licences suspended in March. MPA said these alterations had allowed bunker fuel measured by the MFM to be siphoned out, undermining the accuracy of the readings from the MFM system.
IBIA is confident that MPA will continue to take appropriate measures to punish and discourage malpractices in this area so as to not harm Singapore’s hard fought reputation as one of the world’s leading and most reliable bunker ports.
Another area of concern that affects suppliers and bunker craft operators, but which falls outside the MPA’s jurisdiction, is the potential for variations in delivery volumes between Singapore oil terminals and bunker tankers. Bunker tankers have to accept the delivery volume recorded by the terminals, and IBIA has been informed that MFM-equipped bunker tankers have experienced discrepancies which put bunker craft operators at a disadvantage.
IBIA would therefore support a solution which applied the respective MPA approved MFM system bunker tanker figures for oil terminal loadings, and is now playing a role in closing what is regarded by many as a significant loophole in the bunker supply chain. A cross industry group including IBIA, SPRING Singapore, the Singapore Shipping Association and the Singapore Chemical Industry Council is in dialogue with relevant bodies governing the Singapore terminals in an effort to resolve this issue. The MPA is also involved in these discussions.