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Magnets on MFMs: Viking Marine Services offer precautionary measures

19 Mar 2019

International marine consultancy, surveying and inspection service provider Viking Marine Services (VMS) recently published an update to the bunkering industry informing on the alleged use of magnets by a minority of players to influence MFM readings:

During the initial phase of the mass flow meter (MFM) being introduced for bunkering, there have been cases such as the following being discovered: –

  1. Faulty computer
  2. Faulty meter
  3. Pump being started much earlier
  4. Meter was not zeroed prior to starting
  5. Additional pipe after the meter etc.

After some time, with all parties becoming more familiar with bunkers being delivered using MFM, most of the issues mentioned above have been averted. In recent times, however, looking at our records, there has been a spike in bunker shortages for deliveries carried out in Singapore using MFM.

The market rumours were about the usage of “magnets” to manipulate the volume delivered using MFM. In view of this, our surveyors were informed to keep a close lookout for “magnets” and we found evidence supporting the usage of magnets to manipulate volume delivered by MFM.

Depending on the strength of the magnet and where is it placed, the usage of magnets may influence the amount and direction of the measurement offset. It is important to note that once exposed to the magnetic field, the meter’s performance could permanently be offset i.e. sensor could read flow when no flow is present or vice-versa.

In order to protect the interest of buyers from matters such as this, we at Viking Marine Services would suggest the following precautionary measures being taken.

  1. Incorporate into bunker contracts permission to carry out manual sounding on all barge tanks prior to the commencement of bunker and upon completion, if there is a dispute.
  2. For bigger vessels, having two surveyors during delivery would be advisable (onboard barge and onboard vessel) because all it takes is a few minutes to manipulate the MFM reading using a magnet.

For further information and clarification on this matter, please find below the contact details of our local team in Singapore. Please do not hesitate to contact them and they will be more than happy to assist you with any of your queries.

Email : ops.sg@vikingmarines.com

Published: 19 March, 2019

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