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FuelTrust: Early warning is the best protection against contaminated bunkers

Digital early warning system – combining AI and blockchain technologies – could have helped reduce risks in Singapore bunker contamination case, says Jonathan Arneault, CEO of FuelTrust.

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In an exclusive article shared with Manifold Times, Jonathan Arneault, CEO of FuelTrust, a startup company using blockchain and AI to trace the provenance of marine fuels, shares on how a digital early warning system can help protect against contaminated bunkers and warn buyers and suppliers of possible risks before the fuel is bunkered.

The Singapore contamination earlier this year affected hundreds of ships, caused millions of dollar in damages and – like the Houston fuel contamination in 2018 – will most likey result in legal actions for year to come. 

The cause of this disruption has been attributed to a batch of high sulphur fuel oil, containing unacceptable concentration levels of chlorinated organic compounds. Unfortunately current ISO 8217 testing methods are not enough to have detected the contaminates in either the Singapore or Houston incidents. 

FuelTrust: Early warning is the best protection against contaminated bunkers

Far reaching costs

Beyond the price of the fuel itself, widespread contamination comes at a big cost. Insurance claims for disruption to cargo delivery and damage to machinery alone could easily run to hundreds of millions of dollars. There are also the costs that shipowners and operators must bear for repairs, vessels out of operation while being fixed and potential penalties for failing to meet contractual agreements. Moreover, a single batch of bad fuel can cause long-term reputational damage to the fuel suppliers involved.

Ship operators are typically advised to avoid taking on contaminated bunkers by selecting suppliers carefully, performing additional tests on bunkers and checking the details of bunker supply contracts in case there is a time limit for giving notice of quality issues. This is good advice for helping to mitigate risks, but it is far from foolproof, and it does not take into account the commercial time pressures operators face. 

Tracking and analysing the transactions that a batch of fuel goes through to reach the bunker terminal using digital technology can help protect against these major risks, and warn buyers and suppliers of possible risks before the fuel is bunkered. This digital early warning system can also fit in with the commercial timelines of vessel operators and fuel suppliers alike.

Shared data and insight

Access to the content, history and expected performance of bunker fuel prior to sale or bunkering, allows suppliers and shipowners to reduce their operational and financial risks. Suppliers, in particular, can spread these benefits across their customers. In Singapore, a GCMS (Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry) test would have revealed the presence of the organic chlorides causing the fuel contamination. A digital early warning system, combining AI and blockchain technologies, could have helped reduce the risks in this case, by providing a record of the GCMS lab analysis of the supplier storage fuel tanks.

Importantly, these digital technologies work together. Blockchain technology is used to establish a digital record of a batch of fuel throughout its lifecycle, and to allow suppliers to grant data access only to parties that need the information. Recording information using blockchain technology provides a single source of truth for the fuel lifecycle. AI technology is used to analyse the data held in the blockchain and to identify chemical risk, providing an early warning to ship owners and bunker suppliers based on these insights. 

Recording data from the fuel lifecycle using blockchain-based technology provides data security through encryption and permissioned transparency, allowing suppliers to only share this information with their commercial partners – building transparency and trust, but not at the cost of competitiveness. 

Digital technology also allows operators and suppliers to receive alerts when AI algorithms detect anomalies or non-compliant fuels before they are bunkered, saving suppliers and shipowners from reputational, operational and commercial damage. Using AI and blockchain technologies requires no hardware or manual resources, meaning these insights can be made available at very low cost – just a few pennies per barrel.

While the scope of the recent incidents in Singapore again brought attention to the persistent, global issue of fuel contamination, fuel quality problems cause debunkering issues every month in ports around the world – most of which never make the news. At FuelTrust, we have developed a digital solution that delivers trusted transparency for the bunker industry, and provides the early warning indicators to alleviate the types of fuel contamination issues that cost the sector hundreds of millions of dollars. 

 

Photo credit: FuelTrust
Published: 15 September, 2022

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Poland: ORLEN to strengthen position in bunker fuels sector with new oil terminal

With the terminal’s commissioning, the company plans to introduce a bunkering vessel to service the Tri-City ports with conventional marine fuels and biofuels.

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ORLEN oil terminals

Polish multinational oil refiner ORLEN Group on Wednesday (12 June) said it is solidifying its presence in the marine fuels market with the construction of a new oil terminal that is scheduled for completion by the second half of 2025.

Construction of the Martwa Wisła terminal, located on the Martwa Wisła river, has already exceeded 70%.

The Martwa Wisła terminal will enhance the logistics capabilities of the Gdańsk refinery, allowing for the transshipment of approximately 2 million tonnes of fuel products annually.

The first four loading arms have already arrived at the construction site and the remaining four loading arms are slated for delivery by the end of June. The devices, with a throughput capacity of up to 500m³/h, will be used at transshipment points to load tankers.

With the terminal's commissioning, the company plans to introduce a bunkering vessel to service the Tri-City ports (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot) with conventional fuels and biofuels.

For over 20 years, the Group has been supplying quality marine fuels to all Polish seaports. Its refinery product portfolio encompasses a wide range of fuels that guarantee quality and strict compliance with regulations, including MGO (DMA 0.1%S), ULSFO (RMD80 0.1% S) and LNG, which will in the near future be complemented with ‘green’ alternatives.

All marine fuels offered by ORLEN comply with the international ISO 8217:2017 standard and meet the requirements of the MARPOL Convention.

 

Photo credit: ORLEN Group
Published: 14 June 2024

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Australia: Crew of bunker tanker “Champion 63” to strike following employer’s refusal to negotiate

‘BP has decided they can’t pay industry standards in Brisbane and want to keep their workers’ wages low,’ states MUA spokesman.

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Champion 63

The crew of Champion 63, a 2022-built Australia-registered bunker tanker with home port of Brisbane, is set to go on strike after bargaining for a new enterprise agreement has stalled, stated the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) on Wednesday (12 June).

Members of the Australian Maritime Officers Union, the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, and MUA voted up protected industrial action on 11 June 2024.

The crews have been trying to formalise their employment conditions with ASP Ship Management since the bunkering operations commenced in February 2023. It took ASP approximately six months to issue the Notice of Employee Representational Rights (NERR) and start bargaining.

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“The crew of the new bunker barge on the Brisbane River and the maritime unions bent over backwards to make this vessel work,” said MUA Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Gallagher.

“Including low wages, excessive hours and a roster that does not allow crew to take leave. 18 months down the track when it comes time for BP to reward their crew and pay industry standards what do they do? They deny them fair wages, a workable roster and threaten their back pay!”

The AMOU filed a bargaining dispute after ASP refused to take their claim for a roster that does not demand that crews work every weekend seriously.

“Having to work every weekend because ASP does not have suitable relief arrangements is unacceptable,” said AMOU Industrial Officer Tracey Ellis.

“Crews have a right to be rostered time off to spend with their family. Waiting for ASP to fix the issue did not work, filing a Bargaining Dispute in the Fair Work Commission did not work, so the crews will take protected industrial action until their concerns are taken seriously.”

The crews onboard the Champion 63 voted up an unlimited number of stoppages of work of between one hour and 48 hours.

Gallagher added that, “the Maritime unions will not tolerate the big multinational fuel barons of this world undermining the Australian maritime wages and conditions of seven local mariners who are trying their best to support our own local shipping and Cruise Ship industry. If your cruise holiday gets delayed it is because, after recording over $40 billion profit in last two years, BP has decided they can’t pay industry standards in Brisbane and want to keep their workers’ wages low.”

 

Photo credit: Maritime Union of Australia
Published: 13 June 2024

 

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Infineum releases Sustainability Report 2023 outlining its sustainability progress

Infineum celebrates 25 years of operations and looks forward to the next 25 years of progress towards its net zero ambition by 2050, says CEO.

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Press release Infineum remains focused on our purpose to become a sustainable world class specialty chemicals company

Infineum, a specialty chemicals company headquartered in the UK, on Thursday (13 June) released its fourth annual Sustainability Report, reinforcing its purpose to create a sustainable future through innovative chemistry.

Aligned with the company’s strategic plan to achieve its vision and purpose, Infineum announces:

Publication of its Sustainability Report 2023 (Sustainability.Infineum.com), which outlines the efforts and progress that the company has achieved through the year, including:

  • Championing of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) throughout the organisation
  • Achievement of 28% of colleagues volunteering, surpassing its 2025 target of 25%
  • Increased share of relevant supplier spends covered by sustainability assessments to 62%

Launch of revamped corporate website (www.Infineum.com) to better represent Infineum as a specialty chemicals company, showcasing Infineum’s existing capabilities, as well as diversification in the new markets

The joint venture, formed in 1999 between Shell and Exxon Mobil, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and recently shared its restructure strategy to two business units, Sustainable Transportation and Energy Applications.

“As Infineum celebrates 25 years of operations and we look forward to the next 25 years of progress towards our net zero ambition by 2050, I am pleased to share our fourth annual sustainability report,” says Infineum CEO Aldo Govi.

“This is a journey and we have made excellent progress, but improvement will not always be linear, especially when set against the backdrop of a challenging external environment, but our purpose of creating a sustainable future through innovative chemistry, continues to drive us forward.

“We remain focused on our vision to become a sustainable world-class specialty chemicals company. Sustainability was at the core of reshaping Infineum to better enable us to contribute to sustainable mobility and the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

 

Photo credit: Infineum
Published: 13 June 2024

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