P&I Club Warns Vessel Operators to Use Soundings Alongside Singapore MFM Regs

Monday March 20, 2017

The North of England P&I Association Limited (North of England P&I) has warned vessel operators that, despite new regulations in Singapore that make the use of Mass Flow Meters (MFMs) mandatory for bunker deliveries, operators should still utilise soundings before and after deliveries.

"The introduction of MFM for bunker operation in Singapore is a welcome development. Unfortunately it appears that although the equipment has changed, the behaviour of some unscrupulous suppliers has not," said the P&I Club.

The organisation says, with reports that piping irregularities have been identified on some bunker tankers, it is possible that some quantity of bunkers could be syphoned back into the bunker vessel's tanks during the process of bunkering.

As a result, the amount registered on an MFM totaliser could be greater than the amount delivered to the vessel.

"Soundings should still be taken on board before and after bunker delivery and, in case of a difference between the vessel figures and the BDN, letters of protest should be issued," said North of England P&I.

"Charterers should be informed of any difference immediately."

The P&I club further warns that, while bunker suppliers will not usually accept letters of protest or will refuse to sign, in the event of a dispute, such letters provide evidence of any difference between an MFM figure and the figure demonstrated using the sounding method. 

"The use of a reputable bunker surveyor who can inspect the bunker barge lines for any irregularities in addition to cross-checking the seal verification report, inspecting the seals and taking MFM readings, is recommended," concludes the P&I club.

Following news last 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 MFM setup, the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) said it welcomes MPA's efforts to ensure the integrity of MFM systems in Singapore.