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SIBCON 2020: VPS proposes mandate of latest bunker fuel quality standards for Singapore market

08 Oct 2020

International fuel testing and inspection firm Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) has made a proposal to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to mandate the use of ISO 8217:2017 bunker fuel specification for marine fuel deliveries at the republic.

Captain Rahul Choudhuri, Managing Director AMEA at VPS, made the proposal during the live session of SIBCON Deep Dive: Future Bunker Markets – Supply Side Synergies in Ensuring Compatible and Compliant Fuels on Wednesday (7 October).

In his presentation, Captain Choudhuri notes 30% of VPS’ shipowner clients to be still using the “obsolete” 2005 version of the ISO 8217 marine fuel standard; 60% uses the 2012 version; while 10% has moved on to adopt the 2017 version –the latest specification for marine fuels.

“The point I want to make is that every time these fuel quality standards are revised, it is actually a technical revision,” he said while referring the latest ISO 8217:2017 standard includes tests for VLSFO cold flow properties and FAME in distillate marine fuels.

“But if the industry is not going to use this standard, I think we are in a really tough spot,” he adds.

“Starting yesterday at Sibcon, Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat is already saying we have to keep up with changes in the business. But here, we’re not keeping up with the pace of change so I think something more needs to happen.

“And I propose at Sibcon in Singapore, where I live and work, that I think MPA (Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore) has some sort of regulatory muscle to actually do something more and perhaps even look at banning these old bunker fuel quality standards which actually don’t apply anymore.”

To date, marine fuel quality issues still persists, says Captain Choudhuri. He highlights about 7% of bunkers tested by VPS globally are found to be off specification and VPS has released 37 bunker alerts across 12 countries this year – an all-time high.

“We have heard a lot about fuel quality issues which primarily are issues with stability for VLSFOs and they are caused by high sediment, waxing of fuels, or chemical contamination; there could be a sort of a mix here,” he shared.

“Additionally, I would like to mention the Singapore Shipping Association this year has done two surveys with their members and found issues with VLSFO fuel stability causing sludging or filter clogging.”

He advised shipowners to look at marine fuel management in a holistic manner and perform tests for additional parameters such as Wax Appearance Temperature and Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) to detect fuel contamination for managing fuel stability.

Moving forward, Captain Choudhuri believes the Covid-19 pandemic has enhanced the role of bunker surveyors as a mediator and verifier of bunkering operations due to disruption of the receiving vessel to bunker tanker interface.

Shipowners will still need a surveyor representative to be present on the bunker tanker to oversee the mass flowmeter, delivery operation and handling of disputes; especially when 20% of bunkering deliveries do not follow proper sampling documentation without surveyors.

He further shares a VPS surveyor has found 500 metric tonnes (mt) of undeclared bunker fuel within a vessel in an inspection a few months earlier.

“So, I think the role of the surveyor should not be underestimated; in fact, it has sort of enhanced during the pandemic. In its entirety, surveyors play a key role in in putting keeping a lid on malpractice, any malpractice, during a bunkering operation.”

A series of SIBCON 2020 related articles have been earlier written by Manifold Times:

Related: SIBCON 2020: Equatorial Marine Fuels provides view on local and global bunker markets post Covid-19
Related: SIBCON 2020: BIMCO Chief Shipping Analyst explains new business dynamics in bunker fuels sector
RelatedChairman of Technical Committee for Bunkering explains SS 660, TR 80; and cast an eye to the future
RelatedSIBCON 2020: TR 48 reaps annual savings of at least SGD 80 million for bunkering sector
RelatedSIBCON 2020: Singapore introduces new MFM bunkering standards SS 660 and TR 80
RelatedSIBCON 2020: Powering Fuels of the Future, Driving towards Decarbonisation
Related: SIBCON 2020: Senior Minister highlights ‘quality resilience and sustainability’ for bunkering sector
RelatedInfineum explains: ISO 8217:2017 should be viewed as a ‘minimum performance benchmark’ for VLSFOs
RelatedInterview: Hafnia shares IMO 2020 preparations, promotes transparency for bunkering operations
RelatedVPS: Shipowners face ‘tricky situation’ to balance VLSFO shelf life and wax appearance temperature
RelatedVPS: Big data analysis reveals link between Covid-19 and spike in low flashpoint MGO off-spec cases
RelatedInterview: Total Marine Fuels Global Solutions discusses sector growth, IMO 2020, and future plans
RelatedSIBCON 2020: Evolution to a ‘completely different’ bunkering industry event, says organiser
RelatedSingapore: SIBCON 2020 bunkering event to be hosted virtually


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 7 October, 2020

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