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IBIA: Off-specs and bunker licensing discussed at IMO

IBIA told MSC 106 that off-spec data from 2020 came across as ‘overly alarming’ for several reasons, noting that an “off-spec” fuel does not necessarily pose a significant safety risk to the ship.





The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) on Thursday (1 December) published an article on licensing of bunker suppliers which was discussed during the recent 106th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee but said there was not much appetite for pursuing bunker licensing among Member States. A few questioned the degree to which bunker licensing would be effective in preventing supply of off-spec fuels:

IBIA voiced support for licensing of bunker suppliers, but urged caution about how to interpret ‘off-specs’ at the 106th session of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee that took place from November 2 to 11.

Two papers were submitted to the meeting about fuels that may jeopardize the safety of ships. The submitters of the documents said these would be useful for the Correspondence Group on Development of further measures to enhance the safety of ships relating to the use of fuel oil (CG). This CG, which works between MCS meetings, was re-established at MSC 105. IBIA takes part in the CG with input from the IBIA Technical Working Group. (More info on this link)

One of the papers, MSC 106/18/1, submitted by BIMCO, ICS, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO provided statistics, based on a set of data from 2020 from a major fuel testing agency, about fuels failing to meet ISO 8217 parameters. The other, MSC 106/INF.19 submitted by Singapore gave details of investigations and actions taken following the supply of bunker fuel containing chlorinated organic compounds in the Port of Singapore earlier this year.

MSC 106/18/1 also pointed to regional differences in off-spec occurrences, and proposed “that Member States, including the individual ports within Member States, and relevant intergovernmental organizations consider implementing and enforcing a licensing scheme for bunker suppliers operating within their jurisdiction to combat the high off-spec occurrence rates in some poorer performing geographical regions”.

Commenting on these papers, IBIA made the following statement at MSC 106: “We thank the co-sponsors of MSC 106/18/1 in relation to off specification occurrence rates during 2020, highlighting regional differences, which we are aware of.  We are very much supportive of the proposal in the document that relevant authorities should be encouraged to consider implementing and enforcing a licensing scheme for bunker suppliers operating within their jurisdiction. The approach of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore in connection with the recent case in Singapore of Organic Chlorides described in MSC 106/INF.19 is a prime example of the benefits of a licensing scheme.”   

During discussions of the two papers at MSC 106, several delegations supported sending both to the CG on fuel oil safety for consideration.

There was not, however, much appetite for pursuing bunker licensing among Member States. A few questioned the degree to which bunker licensing would be effective in preventing supply of off-spec fuels. Several noted that it is entirely the responsibility of the supplier to provide on-spec fuel.

Several delegations stressed that bunker supplier licensing schemes had already been thoroughly discussed in recent years, both by MSC and the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), and that implementation of such licensing schemes should be voluntary. Moreover, MSC agreed that bunker licensing should be addressed by MEPC under the remit of MARPOL.

IBIA and BIMCO have submitted a paper to the upcoming MEPC 79 meeting in December. Our document, MEPC 79/INF.24 shares the results of our joint industry survey, which identified broad support among maritime industry stakeholders for adoption of bunker licensing schemes and mass flow metering systems to improve transparency and market conditions.

We submitted this document to MEPC to raise awareness among IMO Member States and stakeholders of the benefits of adopting effective bunker licencing programmes and MFM technology. (Read it on this link: MEPC 79/INF.24)

Off-spec interpretation

In regards to the off-spec data from 2020 presented in MSC 106/18/1, IBIA told MSC 106 that the data came across as overly alarming for several reasons.

“According to ISO 4259, which is incorporated for every individual test method listed in ISO 8217, a fuel is considered off-spec only if the tested value exceeds both the actual limit and the 95% confidence interval for each specific parameter. The data presented in document MSC 106/18/1 does not appear to take the 95% confidence interval into account, hence the percentage of off-specs is greater than if the paper had followed the industry accepted approach to test results. Data from two testing agencies from the start of 2021 to Q3 of 2022 that do take 95% confidence into account show the percentage of off-specs at much lower levels. For the ARA region, for example, where data in MSC 106/18/1 shows off-specs including sulphur at 19%, data from 2021 and 2022 show off-specs including sulphur averaging 6.76% from one fuel testing agency and quarterly averages ranging from 2.4 – 4.3% from another,” IBIA’s Director and IMO Representative Unni Einemo told MSC 106.

“Most importantly, it should be noted that an “off-spec” fuel does not necessarily pose a significant safety risk to the ship. One of the most common off-specs is excess water, which is easily managed at twice the specification limit. A more critical parameter like Al+Si, meanwhile, is harmful even at on-spec concentrations if the fuel is not properly managed onboard, yet fuels testing above the limit may often be safely managed onboard with due care and attention,” she added.

“In conclusion, this paper does not reflect the percentage of oil fuels that present a significant safety risk to the receiving ship, and we would therefore suggest a more selective approach to examining fuel quality data relating to the safety of ships.”

While there was support for, and no objections to, sending the MSC 106/18/1 to the CG on fuel oil safety, some said more information was desirable, such as an indication of the degree to which parameters exceeded ISO 8217 parameters, and the possible influence on safety associated with the off-spec parameters.

It would also be very useful for the work on assessing oil fuel safety issues to receive more information from concrete cases where fuel has been identified as causing an incident, it was noted.

The CG on oil fuel safety will have several rounds of discussions between now and MSC 107, which is scheduled for early June next year. In the first round, the CG will discuss guidelines for sampling procedures to establish flashpoint. (More info on this link)


Photo credit: IBIA
Published: 5 December, 2022

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Singapore: EPS orders ammonia, LNG dual-fuel vessels from China

EPS signed one contract for a series of ammonia dual-fuel bulk carriers with CSSC Beihai Shipbuilding and another for a series of LNG dual-fuel oil tankers with CSSC Guangzhou Shipbuilding International.






Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) on Wednesday (28 February) said it signed two new contract orders in a signing ceremony in Shanghai, one for a series of ammonia dual-fuel bulk carriers with CSSC Beihai Shipbuilding and another for a series of LNG dual-fuel oil tankers with CSSC Guangzhou Shipbuilding International. 

The contracts signed cover four 210,000 dwt ammonia dual-fuel bulk carriers and two 111,000 dwt LNG dual-fuel LR2 oil tankers, expanding our fleet of green vessels on water. 

“These are pivotal for EPS, testament to our continued commitment towards the decarbonisation of shipping,” EPS said in a social media post.

Manifold Times recently reported EPS signing a contract for its first ever wind-assisted propulsion system, partnering with bound4blue to install three 22-metre eSAILs® onboard the Pacific Sentinel

The turnkey ‘suction sail’ technology, which drags air across an aerodynamic surface to generate exceptional propulsive efficiency, will be fitted later this year, helping the 183-metre, 50,000 DWT oil and chemical tanker reduce overall energy consumption by approximately 10%, depending on vessel routing.

Related: Singapore: EPS orders its first wind-assisted propulsion system for tanker


Photo credit: Eastern Pacific Shipping
Published: 1 March 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Malaysia: Port of Tanjung Pelepas completes first LNG bunkering operation

Landmark event involved the CMA CGM Monaco, a 14,024 TEUs containership operated by French shipping giant CMA CGM.






Port of Tanjung Pelepas Sdn Bhd (PTP), a joint venture between MMC Group and APM Terminals, on Wednesday (28 February) announced a significant milestone with the successful completion of its first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) bunkering operation. 

The landmark event involved the CMA CGM Monaco, a 14,024 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) capacity containership operated by French shipping giant, CMA CGM.

Tan Sri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh, Chairman of PTP in a statement remarked this latest milestone demonstrates PTP’s commitment to continuously enhance its competitive advantages in an increasingly competitive global market.

“The successful completion of our first LNG bunkering operation also underscores our unwavering commitment to sustainability and environmental leadership. We are proud to partner with Petronas Trading Corporation Sendirian Berhad (PETCO) and CMA CGM on this initiative and showcase PTP’s capabilities as a leading facilitator of clean and efficient maritime operations.”

“This milestone paves the way for further growth in LNG bunkering at PTP, contributing significantly to the decarbonisation of the maritime industry.”

Commenting on this achievement, Mark Hardiman, Chief Executive Officer of PTP stated this latest milestone further highlights PTP’s position as the largest transshipment hub terminal in Malaysia.

“In preparation for the LNG bunkering operation, PTP worked closely since March 2022 with PETCO and CMA CGM, as well as with various other related government agencies to organise table-top exercises (TTX) and workshops, before carrying out the deployment exercise.”

“The success of the bunkering operation is a result of the seamless collaboration and preparations involving rigorous safety procedures through in-depth operational and risk assessments, modelling, and validation. We thank PETCO, CMA CGM all other involved parties for their joint efforts in operationalising the bunkering capability and we welcome partners to work with us to accelerate maritime decarbonisation,” said Hardiman.

Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) is Malaysia’s largest transshipment hub with the capacity to handle 13 million TEUs annually. The port delivers reliable, efficient, and advanced services to major shipping lines and box operators, providing shippers in Malaysia and abroad with extensive connectivity to the global market. PTP is currently ranked 15th among the world top container ports.


Photo credit: Port of Tanjung Pelepas
Published: 1 March 2024

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Alternative Fuels

Wallenius Wilhelmsen to order four additional methanol DF PCTCs

Newbuilds will also be ammonia-ready and able to be converted as soon as ammonia becomes available in a safe and secure way.





Wallenius Wilhelmsen PCTC order

Roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen on Tuesday (27 February) declared options to build four additional next-generation Shaper Class pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) vessels.

The 9,300 CEU methanol dual fuel vessels can utilise alternative fuel sources, such as methanol, upon delivery. They will also be ammonia-ready and able to be converted as soon as ammonia becomes available in a safe and secure way.

“Together with our customers we are committed to further shaping our industry and accelerating towards net zero. These new vessels are a vital part of that journey,” says Xavier Leroi, EVP & COO Shipping Services.

This latest commitment brings the total number of Shaper Class vessels currently on order with Jinling Shipyard (Jiangsu) to eight. Wallenius Wilhelmsen also retains further options.

The first of the Shaper Class vessels already ordered are expected to be delivered in the second half of 2026. The four additional vessels under the declared options will be delivered between May and November 2027.


Photo credit: Wallenius Wilhelmsen
Published: 1 March 2024

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