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SIBCON 2022 Interview: Co-Convenors offer insights into Singapore’s upcoming Digital Bunker Document Standard

Eventual adoption of Digital Bunker Document Standard speeds up interoperability between stakeholders from both public and private sectors, learns Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times.

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AARON Digital Bunker Document Standard

The following interview with Dennis Ho and Tan Sian Lip, both Co-Convenors for the Working Group on Electronic Documentation for Bunkering, is part of coverage for the upcoming Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition (SIBCON) 2022, where Manifold Times is an official media partner. 

Mr Ho, the Managing Director of ElbOil Singapore, and Mr Tan, the Founder & CEO of Halialabs, provide the bunkering publication with an update on the development of Singapore’s Digital Bunkering Document Standard standardisation.

MT: What is the new Digital Bunker Document Standard effort and how is it different from previous attempts? What is the status of this work?

The Digital Bunkering Document Standard standardisation project, an effort which started in October 2021, is a pro-competition and market-friendly initiative that specifies the characteristics of digital documents to be exchanged by participants within the bunkering ecosystem.  

This initiative aims to achieve several key outcomes:

  • The first is that the bunkering community will be able to create digital plug & play documents, usable by any IT solution or platform across the ecosystem without intermediaries.
  • The second is that structured data should flow together with these documents.  
  • The third is for the bunkering community’s graceful evolution wherein early adopters are not held back by slower ones and the slower ones are not forced to move in lock-step with their faster counterparts.

It is important to note the standardisation does not involve specifying or building IT systems. Market participants will, however, be encouraged to do so on their own as they adopt this new standard.

The standard working group is currently in the stage of validating working drafts of specifications to assess their fit towards specific business needs within the bunkering ecosystem.  

MT: What benefits does electronic documentation offer for the local bunkering sector? 

The advent of computers and digital communications have resulted in time spent waiting for couriers disappearing into history. However, friction points between the internal e-documentation systems of different stakeholders still exist.

Standardised e-documents seek to eliminate delays and errors from manual data-entry and the time and expense of adjusting one’s IT systems to accommodate counterparties’ different data-definitions.

Unlike physical documents, e-documents are less vulnerable to tampering as anyone who receives a copy will be able to independently verify their integrity.  

E-documentation also offers flexibility in business process design as any copy stored anywhere will be as (verifiably) reliable as an original copy. Knowing whether a document back-up is dependable will, consequently, also become simpler as there is no need to depend on the security of a document’s chain-of-custody.

Businesses’ ability to change IT service providers and business partners will increase because standardised e-documents will allow businesses to process documents and data coming from any organisation and system.

MT: Who are the parties driving the development of the Digital Bunker Document Standard?

This initiative is a national standard development effort under the Singapore Standards Council. The Technical Committee for Bunkering (Liquid Ambient Fuels) undertook the task of coming up with a standard specification for digitalisation in the bunker industry in 2021 and a working group (WG) was subsequently set up in 2021 with individuals drawn the bunkering industry.

The WG includes players from the various sectors: Bunker Suppliers, Traders, Oil Terminals, Vessel Owners/Operators, Surveyors, Laboratories, Business Associations (SCIC, SSA), meter vendors, government bodies (MPA, NMC, , IMDA) and relevant standards partners (Singapore Standards Council and IT Standards Committee); other allied supply-chain partner-groups included in this effort are, IT vendors, banks, and legal firms.  

MPA is actively encouraging key members of Singapore’s maritime community, especially those that have participated in Smart Nation initiatives, to participate in the standards setting process. This paves the way for the eventual adoption of this standard and speeds up the achievement of interoperability among bunkering participants from both the public and private sectors. 

MT: Bunkering seems to have remained mired in paper; what are the digitalisation challenges for this sector?

Previous digitalisation attempts have focused on interposing shared IT platforms between transacting parties. These initiatives also try to set standards (implicitly) by creating shared IT platforms. (i.e. because users of these platforms have to comply with their data/document standards.)

However, these platforms typically require transacting (pairs of) parties to be committed on the same platform – a form of consensus that is difficult to achieve. 

This is because the bunkering and shipping sectors operate in a decentralised dynamic and decentralised market that crosses multiple established business-industrial sectors, each with their own business traditions and processes, types of IT systems, and regulations. 

Add on the fact that a lot of bunkering is being carried out successfully without digital documents; this makes the power of status quo very difficult to overcome. Just how much more business is there to be gained through further digitalisation? Efficiency and risk arguments, while valid, tend to be much less compelling to businesses than those for revenue enhancement.

MT: Which parties are able to access electronic documentation after a bunkering operation? How is access decided and what is the purpose of each party having access to the data?

IT platforms that store documents (even momentarily) on behalf of multiple parties must implement data-access policies to maintain business confidentiality.

This standard, however, being a document-specification effort, does not envision, nor does it require, shared storage.  As such the issue of data-access policies does not arise as documents can be sent directly between businesses using a platform or simpler methods, e.g. email or whatsapp, or API calls.

Members of the Digital Bunkering Document Standard standardisation projectWG on Electronic doc process for bunkering 26 Oct 2021 1

WG on Electronic doc process for bunkering 26 Oct 2021 2

Other interviews conducted by Manifold Times for coverage of SIBCON 2022 are as follows:

Related: SIBCON 2022 Interview: MFMs relevant for custody transfer of future liquid-based marine fuels, confirms Endress+Hauser
RelatedSIBCON 2022 Interview: Singapore Bunkering TC Chairman shares republic’s direction on future marine fuels
RelatedSIBCON 2022 Interview: Clyde & Co discusses handling of bunker fuel quality disputes, alt fuels contracts

 

Photo credit: Singapore Technical Committee for Bunkering
Published: 3 October, 2022

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Poland: ORLEN to strengthen position in bunker fuels sector with new oil terminal

With the terminal’s commissioning, the company plans to introduce a bunkering vessel to service the Tri-City ports with conventional marine fuels and biofuels.

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ORLEN oil terminals

Polish multinational oil refiner ORLEN Group on Wednesday (12 June) said it is solidifying its presence in the marine fuels market with the construction of a new oil terminal that is scheduled for completion by the second half of 2025.

Construction of the Martwa Wisła terminal, located on the Martwa Wisła river, has already exceeded 70%.

The Martwa Wisła terminal will enhance the logistics capabilities of the Gdańsk refinery, allowing for the transshipment of approximately 2 million tonnes of fuel products annually.

The first four loading arms have already arrived at the construction site and the remaining four loading arms are slated for delivery by the end of June. The devices, with a throughput capacity of up to 500m³/h, will be used at transshipment points to load tankers.

With the terminal's commissioning, the company plans to introduce a bunkering vessel to service the Tri-City ports (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot) with conventional fuels and biofuels.

For over 20 years, the Group has been supplying quality marine fuels to all Polish seaports. Its refinery product portfolio encompasses a wide range of fuels that guarantee quality and strict compliance with regulations, including MGO (DMA 0.1%S), ULSFO (RMD80 0.1% S) and LNG, which will in the near future be complemented with ‘green’ alternatives.

All marine fuels offered by ORLEN comply with the international ISO 8217:2017 standard and meet the requirements of the MARPOL Convention.

 

Photo credit: ORLEN Group
Published: 14 June 2024

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Australia: Crew of bunker tanker “Champion 63” to strike following employer’s refusal to negotiate

‘BP has decided they can’t pay industry standards in Brisbane and want to keep their workers’ wages low,’ states MUA spokesman.

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Champion 63

The crew of Champion 63, a 2022-built Australia-registered bunker tanker with home port of Brisbane, is set to go on strike after bargaining for a new enterprise agreement has stalled, stated the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) on Wednesday (12 June).

Members of the Australian Maritime Officers Union, the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, and MUA voted up protected industrial action on 11 June 2024.

The crews have been trying to formalise their employment conditions with ASP Ship Management since the bunkering operations commenced in February 2023. It took ASP approximately six months to issue the Notice of Employee Representational Rights (NERR) and start bargaining.

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“The crew of the new bunker barge on the Brisbane River and the maritime unions bent over backwards to make this vessel work,” said MUA Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Gallagher.

“Including low wages, excessive hours and a roster that does not allow crew to take leave. 18 months down the track when it comes time for BP to reward their crew and pay industry standards what do they do? They deny them fair wages, a workable roster and threaten their back pay!”

The AMOU filed a bargaining dispute after ASP refused to take their claim for a roster that does not demand that crews work every weekend seriously.

“Having to work every weekend because ASP does not have suitable relief arrangements is unacceptable,” said AMOU Industrial Officer Tracey Ellis.

“Crews have a right to be rostered time off to spend with their family. Waiting for ASP to fix the issue did not work, filing a Bargaining Dispute in the Fair Work Commission did not work, so the crews will take protected industrial action until their concerns are taken seriously.”

The crews onboard the Champion 63 voted up an unlimited number of stoppages of work of between one hour and 48 hours.

Gallagher added that, “the Maritime unions will not tolerate the big multinational fuel barons of this world undermining the Australian maritime wages and conditions of seven local mariners who are trying their best to support our own local shipping and Cruise Ship industry. If your cruise holiday gets delayed it is because, after recording over $40 billion profit in last two years, BP has decided they can’t pay industry standards in Brisbane and want to keep their workers’ wages low.”

 

Photo credit: Maritime Union of Australia
Published: 13 June 2024

 

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Infineum releases Sustainability Report 2023 outlining its sustainability progress

Infineum celebrates 25 years of operations and looks forward to the next 25 years of progress towards its net zero ambition by 2050, says CEO.

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Press release Infineum remains focused on our purpose to become a sustainable world class specialty chemicals company

Infineum, a specialty chemicals company headquartered in the UK, on Thursday (13 June) released its fourth annual Sustainability Report, reinforcing its purpose to create a sustainable future through innovative chemistry.

Aligned with the company’s strategic plan to achieve its vision and purpose, Infineum announces:

Publication of its Sustainability Report 2023 (Sustainability.Infineum.com), which outlines the efforts and progress that the company has achieved through the year, including:

  • Championing of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) throughout the organisation
  • Achievement of 28% of colleagues volunteering, surpassing its 2025 target of 25%
  • Increased share of relevant supplier spends covered by sustainability assessments to 62%

Launch of revamped corporate website (www.Infineum.com) to better represent Infineum as a specialty chemicals company, showcasing Infineum’s existing capabilities, as well as diversification in the new markets

The joint venture, formed in 1999 between Shell and Exxon Mobil, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and recently shared its restructure strategy to two business units, Sustainable Transportation and Energy Applications.

“As Infineum celebrates 25 years of operations and we look forward to the next 25 years of progress towards our net zero ambition by 2050, I am pleased to share our fourth annual sustainability report,” says Infineum CEO Aldo Govi.

“This is a journey and we have made excellent progress, but improvement will not always be linear, especially when set against the backdrop of a challenging external environment, but our purpose of creating a sustainable future through innovative chemistry, continues to drive us forward.

“We remain focused on our vision to become a sustainable world-class specialty chemicals company. Sustainability was at the core of reshaping Infineum to better enable us to contribute to sustainable mobility and the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

 

Photo credit: Infineum
Published: 13 June 2024

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