IBIA: MPA Efforts Over Singapore MFM System Integrity Are "Reassuring"

Friday March 17, 2017

Following news earlier this week that the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) suspended the harbour craft licences of five bunker tankers due to irregularities with piping fixtures associated with their mass flow meter (MFM) setup, the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) today says it welcomes MPA's efforts to ensure the integrity of MFM systems in Singapore.

MFMs have been mandatory for MFO bunkering in the world's biggest bunkering hub since January 1, 2017.

"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," the association said.

"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."

As Ship & Bunker previously reported, the five bunker tankers in question were all operated by top 10 bunker supplier Panoil Petroleum Pte Ltd (Panoil).

IBIA says it has been told by an MPA spokesman that the authority conducts regular spot checks on bunker tankers and "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)."

IBIA notes the development also highlights the fact that, despite the MFM volume reading being binding, bunker surveyors still have a key role to play as part of Singapore bunker operations.

"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," said IBIA.

"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."

Despite some fearing mandatory MFMs would lead to reduced business for the city state's bunker surveyors, earlier this month Viking Marine Services (Viking Marine) Managing Director Vikram Mohan said he has actually witnessed an uptick in demand for bunker surveying and inspections services in Singapore this year.