Take An Opening Tank Sounding When Bunkering with MFMs, Bunker Detectives Advise

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Tuesday October 21, 2014

When bunkering with a Mass Flow Meter (MFM), ship operators should still take an opening tank sounding before bunkering begins, the Bunker Detectives has advised, because in the event of a dispute or MFM failure, the opening sounding will be needed to determine the bunker volume delivered at the end of the bunkering process.

"A number of suppliers have said that bunkering is quicker when using a mass flow meter because you do not have to take tank soundings", Abdul Farhan, Operation Manager / Chief Surveyor, Bunker Detective Asia Pte. Ltd, told Ship & Bunker.

"However, if there is a dispute, or there is a failure with the mass flow meter during bunkering, for example if the barge loses power or there is some other malfunction causing bunkers to be delivered but not recorded by the mass flow metering system, then the only way to then determine the volume of bunkers delivered is with a tank sounding at the end of bunkering.

"But if you did not take an opening sounding, in such situations you would not know the volume of bunkers delivered."

Mass flow metering systems are expected to increase in use in the coming months following the decision by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to make the technology mandatory for marine fuel oil bunkering from January 1, 2017.

While the move is widely expected to eliminate volume related bunker malpractices at the port, most notably the cappuccino bunker effect, Farhan says using a surveyor is still very important.

"Even when using a mass flow meter for bunkering, using a surveyor is still a very good idea as, amongst other things, they can make sure other malpractice is not taking place such as meters not being reset to zero before bunkering begins," said Farhan.

"The mass flow meters are also sealed by MPA to prevent tampering, but it might take a trained eye to identify if the seal has been tampered with."

Vancouver, Canada-headquartered marine surveying organisation Bunker Detectives established a Singapore subsidiary, Bunker Detective Asia Pte. Ltd, in September.