Magnets on MFMs: First suspect charged over MFM tampering in landmark case
The Assistant Boson of a Singapore-registered bunker tanker (IMO 9199701) currently known as Fragrance was sentenced by a Judge at the State Courts of Singapore on Tuesday (27 August) to a five-month jail term starting 15 June over tampering of a mass flowmeter (MFM) during bunkering operations.
“This is the first case of its kind where we have found tampering of MFM,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Eugene Phua during the trial.
Nurharyadi was charged under Section 7(1)(a) read with Section 10(1) of the Computer Misuse Act, Chapter 50A for interfering with the use of a Bunker Metering Computer (BMC) to accurately record marine fuel delivered to the MT Southern Glory.
Court documents obtained by Singapore bunker publication Manifold Times indicated Nurharyadi previously learning how to influence the recorded mass flow rate (MFR) on the BMC by placing an industrial grade magnet at a certain point on the MFM.
The action resulted in the BMC erroneously recording a higher MFR, falsely indicating a greater mass of marine fuel delivered into the receiving vessel on the computer than actually transferred.
On the afternoon of 13 June 2019, Nurharyadi was working with a bunker clerk to transfer 380 centistokes (cSt) grade fuel oil from Fragrance to MT Southern Glory; he affixed the magnet to the MFM around 10 minutes after starting the loading operation while helping the bunker clerk to keep a lookout for Maritime Port Authority (MPA) officers.
An MPA Port Inspector was in the vicinity patrolling the Eastern Petroleum Anchorage on board patrol boat MPA 2 when he decided to conduct a spot check on the bunker tanker delivering fuel under a supplier license from Inter-Pacific Petroleum Pte Ltd.
Nurharyadi disposed of the magnet when he spotted MPA 2 alongside Fragrance and proceeded to inform the bunker clerk of the patrol boat; however, he subsequently confessed to the Port Inspector that he earlier placed the magnet on the MFM.
Following, the bunkering operation was halted with the MFM bunker delivery note recording 573.406 metric tonnes (mt) of fuel delivered. A note of protest later lodged by the Chief Engineer of MT Southern Glory indicated the vessel received 565.5 mt of fuel.
An investigation report from MFM manufacturer Micro Motion found the magnet had been applied on its MFM for 1.31 hours out of an operation lasting 4.7 hours, with the placement causing an additional 4.24 mt of marine fuel registered by the BMC than what was actually delivered.
The financial loss of the operation was recorded to be approximately SGD 2,174.
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Related: MPA temporarily suspends IPP bunker craft operator licence
Related: Singapore: Bunker Cargo officer, crew face charges over alleged MFM tampering
Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 28 August, 2019
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