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INSIGHT: Off-spec issues reveal ‘missing piece’ of Singapore bunker supply chain

Sources explain to Manifold Times the cause of recent supply issues at Singapore port and, more importantly, suggestions to fix this.




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Singapore-based bunker suppliers have been hit by off-spec issues of marine fuel at the port causing cargo loading congestion at terminals. This could be fixed through increased regulation of the entire bunker supply chain, say players familiar with the matter.

The supply chain for bunkering at Singapore port largely depends on arbitrage fuel imported by oil cargo traders/producers which store the product at oil terminals. This cargo will in turn be loaded by bunker suppliers on their bunker tanker at appointed oil storage terminals for deliveries to receiving client vessels.

However, a recent increase of off-spec bunker fuel cases in Singapore have caused players to question the traceability of oil material. Contracts between different terminals and suppliers seen by Manifold Times have indicated fuel quality and quantity measurements by terminals to be final and binding.

The documents suggest terminals having no obligation to attend to off-spec fuel cases after loading cargo onto a bunker tanker.
“Legally, the terminals have a ‘get out of jail free’ card and it seems that the traceability of off-spec bunker fuel stops at the bunker tanker,” shares a source adding “it is a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ situation as bunker suppliers still need the cargo to do business.”

“Bunker suppliers in Singapore typically rely on the Certificate of Quality (COQ) given by the terminal or cargo trader/owner to deliver the bunkers to receiving vessels. However, if there is a problem with the fuel the vessels will come back to suppliers and make a claim against them.

“Suppliers will retest the sample whose seal numbers are indicated on the BDN to ascertain the issue; if it is true they have to arrange for either debunkering, use a fuel additive to make the product compliant, come to a commercial settlement, or report the matter to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) as a last resort.

"Bunker suppliers don't do blending; they just take the product from terminals and transport bunkers to the receiving ship. What terminals give, suppliers take. We are always on the losing end during off-spec cases."

Meanwhile, an operator in the bunkering industry notes the need for more transparent fuel sampling processes at terminals due to an alleged reluctance by terminals to openly share technical information.

“Terminals say they allow suppliers to witness shore tank sampling, but permission granted is in question. Also, it seems terminals do not reveal the distance from the jetty to shore tank,” he notes, while adding some terminals simply stick to taking samples from their shore tank, instead of the bunker manifold at the jetty or bunker tanker.

According to the operator, the pipeline between a shore tank and jetty can contain between 400 to 800 metric tonnes (mt) of fuel depending on size and distance.

“The amount of oil left in the pipeline represents a significant quantity for a bunker tanker which loads only a few thousand metric tonnes when compared to larger oil tankers; it is also the reason why bunker tankers are more sensitive to leftover fuel (from the previous loading) and need to know more technical details.”

Policies such as TR48, SS600, and SS524, also known as the Standard for Quality Management for Bunker Supply Chain (QMBS), introduced by the Singapore bunkering community further do not protect local physical suppliers of marine fuel from the unregulated oil storage terminal sector.

SS524 talks about quality supply chain so effectively this should also involve onshore oil storage terminal; if SS524 was stretched to the shore terminal sector these off-spec bunker fuel cases may not occur,” he says.

“Shipowners, as bunker buyers, don’t care where the fuel source is from and go after suppliers during an off-spec situation; the MPA, which licenses bunker suppliers, also go after suppliers as well as they can’t go after the oil terminals because they cannot regulate terminals or cargo players.

“If SS524 included the terminals sector, the bunkering industry can at least obtain proper sampling from the loading manifold near the bunker tanker where oil terminal rep and crew can witness. Today, most of the loading sample given to bunker tankers are not witnessed by crew. This is a big problem and challenge.”

The off-spec issues, meanwhile, has left certain Singapore oil terminals not being able to offer compliant cargoes. This has led to bunker suppliers contracted to the non-operating facilities heading to other oil terminals to load cargoes, creating a chain effect leading to terminal congestion.

A survey conducted by Manifold Times found at least half a dozen off-spec bunker cases suffered by Singapore suppliers due to either cat fines or low flash point parameters. The total volume of off-spec fuel was estimated to be at least 20,000 mt.

"This ultimately puts Singapore at risk and a disadvantage because the quality of bunkers coming from the state country is questionable,” says a respondent to the survey.

“We are approaching 2020 and most of the low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) are blended products; so how are we going to assure the shipping industry that this problem will not come to existence come 2020?" 

Published: 26 April, 2018

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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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