Research on the use of mass flow metering (MFM) systems for marine fuel oil bunkering in Singapore officially started in 2009, but it was only in 2017 – after it was made mandatory for all bunker deliveries in the city state – that we saw its full effects on the local market.
One year on, stakeholders within the bunker supply chain are more convinced than ever that MFM works for quantity measurement; and due to its success in Singapore, we are seeing an increasing number of international bunker suppliers transitioning towards the use of MFM technology for their own operations.
Apart from Hong Kong and Fujairah, we are also helping the Taiwan supply chain integrate MFM systems and introducing the Technical Reference for Bunker Mass Flow Metering (TR48:2015) as the main basis in metering system qualification, installation, testing, procedures and documentation for bunker custody transfer.
The Taiwanese example is a good case study on the acceptance of MFMs. Even though there isn’t any competitive advantage to do so locally (as there is only one major supplier at Taiwan ports), shipowners are driving the shift towards receiving bunker by MFMs – for transparency, efficiency and accuracy.
China is another country where its bunker supply chain is trying to understand more about TR48:2015. During the roadshows in Shenzhen and Shanghai which we organised a few months ago, some operators shared that they had installed MFM systems on their bunker barges and were looking into the bigger scheme of things – such as building an infrastructure around mass flow metering and developing the Chinese version of TR48:2015 for bunker delivery.
Gibraltar has already installed MFM systems on their barges and we understand that ports in Greece have plans to do likewise. This just goes to show the increasing popularity of MFMs technology for marine refuelling operations.
The successful implementation of MFM systems at Singapore port, while retaining competitive bunker pricing and strong bunker volumes, has opened the eyes of many to the extent where TR48:2015 has now become a sought after brand name, a ‘standard’ to achieve.
The industry is beginning to appreciate that MFM systems is not a plug and play solution, but a closed one where there is traceability of measurement, system integrity and metering procedures when TR48:2015 is involved.
Another factor why shipowners are leaning towards MFMs is because of trust and confidence. We have seen that even with MFMs on board, there are some people are trying to find a way to beat the system. But with TR48:2015 in place, there are enforceable procedures to follow and this in itself builds the trust and confidence with shipowners.
TR48:2015 should be incorporated as a part of the whole MFM bunkering equation and while it is important to achieve accreditation for the system, it is just the beginning. Continuous system maintenance with frequent checks are still vital for error-free operations.