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INSIGHT: Here is what to do for MFM bunker deliveries below Qmin

31 Jul 2018

Singapore, the world's largest bunkering hub, currently sees about 50 million metric tonnes (mt) of marine fuel delivered to vessels each month year through more than 3,000 vessel calls for bunkers.

Of the total volume, a small percentage of ships receiving bunkers will not be able to meet the minimum flow rate, also known as Qmin, for mass flowmeters (MFM) bunkering operations, says the Managing Director of Singapore-based bunker surveying firm Majestic Maritime Services.

“Specifically, Qmin is the minimum flowrate to which a MFM bunkering system has been qualified to operate in compliance with the required measurement uncertainty,” Sky Sim tells Manifold Times.

“Ideally, the flow rate for bunker deliveries will need to be between the Qmin and Qmax; but this scenario doesn’t apply to all operations as physical bunker suppliers need to deliver fuel to ships of all shapes and sizes.

“And there will be the occasional scenario where the flow rate for bunkering the receiving vessel will have to be beneath the Qmin.”

According to Sim, vessel age, the diameter and maintenance of pipelines, and location of bunker tanks near the bow are additional factors influencing the minimal flow rate for bunker deliveries.

“There will also be times when a MFM-equipped bunker barge has to deliver bunkers beneath Qmin even though initially the flow rate is agreed to be above Qmin,” he explains.

“The receiving vessel’s pipeline may face high pressure during delivery and due to safety issues the bunker operator will have no choice but to lower down the flow rate resulting in it falling beneath Qmin.”

Sim, in accordance to TR48, encourages players who are in doubt to inform the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) beforehand when knowing bunkering operations will be taking place below Qmin and await their response and recommendation on whether to proceed.

“However, players who decide to still continue operations will need to indicate on their contractual agreement that all parties are aware of the low receiving rate and approve for the bunkering operation to take place; this is to protect both all parties in the event of disagreement,” he advices.

“Sometimes, the bunker supplier also has no choice but to still continue delivering bunkers to the receiving ship due to other safety reasons; such as when the vessel in question does not have enough fuel for the remaining voyage and the bunker supplier is the ship’s only refuelling option.

“In this case, surveyors are recommended to be present to witness the event of happenings as well as record details in the statement of facts to ensure proper reporting of the situation.

“MFM bunkering specialists such as Metcore International are also available to provide technical assistance for these deliveries.”

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 31 July, 2018


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