FEATURE: Digitalisation is Next Step After MFMs in Singapore's Push for Efficiency and Transparency

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Thursday August 4, 2022

Singapore, the world's largest bunkering hub, is in the process of digitalising its bunker operations, with the aim that this will be the next step after mandatory mass flow meters in bringing greater transparency to marine fuel purchases.

Singapore provided leadership in the global bunker marketplace with its decision to mandate the use of mass flow meters in fuel oil deliveries in 2017. Bunker suppliers in ports across the world
have started voluntarily to roll out the technology to some of their barges in the years since, and
other port authorities are considering introducing similar regulations to make their use compulsory.

The city-state's Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) now regards its push for digitalisation to be the next step in improving the transparency of the marine fuels industry, Kenneth Lim, assistant chief executive for industry and transformation at the MPA, told Ship & Bunker.

"We believe that the efficiency and transparency brought by the use of MFMs, together with digital bunkering, will make bunkering here even more attractive in this climate, and we will continue to push ahead with our projects," he said.

In the current climate of rising fuel prices, ship owners and operators will pay more attention to quality, costs, and efficiency of bunkering, and digitalisation is the next step to further increase efficiency and transparency, he added.

Lim has previously suggested the digitalisation of the bunker delivery and documentation process is estimated to save the bunker industry as much as 39,000 man-days per year.

Singapore has been working on electronic bunker delivery notes (E-BDNs) -- which allow a better transfer of information from bunker supply operations to both buyer and seller without the use of physical paperwork -- since at least 2014.

The MPA is seeking to demonstrate that enabling technology such as cryptography, electronic signatures, wireless digital communication and blockchain have made electronic transactions and records more efficient and secure than conventional methods. In addition, many maritime companies since the COVID-19 pandemic have been taking on digital solutions to provide better services for their customers.

Last July, Singapore saw the completion of Singapore's first live bunker financing pilot transaction using electronic information for a delivery from supplier TFG Marine to an Ocean Network Express vessel, in partnership with DBS.

The MPA is also supporting projects to digitalise workflows for the completion of bunkering documentations such as electronic bunker delivery notes and smart-connected devices for automated and secured transmission of bunkering data from the MFMs.

Singapore's digital bunkering projects are in different stages of development, and some have already started trials. The MPA will review these trials and recommend implementation requirements, which broadly cover cybersecurity, interoperability, data integrity and standards, and compliance with the Electronic Transactions Act.

The rollout is expected to be completed by the end of next year.

As well as improving transparency when it comes to the visibility of how much bunker fuel is delivered and when, the MPA also expects digitalisation to bring benefits to the issue of bunker quality. Singapore saw problems of HSFO contamination earlier this year, and a separate contamination also appears to have hit the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp hub in the second quarter.

"MPA's licensing regime of bunker suppliers provides assurance to shipowners and operators on the quality and quantity of bunker fuel," Lim said.

"This includes the mandatory use of MFMs to provide assurance of the quantity of fuel received, as well as laboratory tests undertaken prior to fuel delivery in accordance with ISO 8217.

"Digital bunkering builds on this to increase the transparency and efficiency of bunkering operations carried out in Singapore by digitalising workflows and related documentation."