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TFG-sponsored paper: Singapore shows implementing certified, calibrated MFM system works

Paper argues global adoption of calibrated MFMs will bring much-needed transparency to bunkering; proposes Singapore’s MFM- based bunker licensing system as a template for regulators in other regions.




TFG-sponsored paper: Singapore shows implementing certified, calibrated MFM system works

TFG Marine, the global marine fuel supply and procurement joint venture between Trafigura and shipping firms Frontline and Golden Ocean, on Tuesday (9 January) published its industry-endorsed Modernising Marine Fuel Delivery white paper written in collaboration with marine fuel supply expert Adrian Tolson. 

The firm said the paper outlined the multiple benefits of the adoption of calibrated coriolis mass flow meters (MFMs).

It called on all marine fuel supply chain participants to actively support the widespread implementation of this digital and vetted technology, that not only brings added transparency, but through accurate data capture will assist shipowners, ports and other industry stakeholders in meeting their decarbonisation ambitions.

“This paper argues that the global adoption of calibrated mass flow meters (MFMs) will bring much-needed transparency to bunkering by generating accurate, real- time data for all stakeholders along the marine fuel supply chain,” according to the introduction of the paper.  

“It describes the problems for the industry caused by inaccurate quantity measurement and sets out a number of remedial actions. It recognises the success of Singapore’s MFM- based bunker licensing system and proposes this as a template for regulators in other regions across the world. It calls on all supply chain participants to actively support MFM-based deliveries, promote transparency and encourage digitalisation in the long-term interests of the bunker industry and to help further the decarbonisation goals of the shipping industry.”

In a section titled “Lessons from Singapore”, the paper said Singapore has shown that implementing a certified, calibrated MFM system works over the last six years.

“It has been a key factor in transforming one of the world’s most challenging bunker markets (in terms of quantity measurement) into one where quantity measurement concerns (at least from barge to ship) have totally disappeared,” the paper said.

“All this has been achieved with Singapore maintaining its prowess as the world’s largest bunkering location and the cheapest in Asia.”

It added MPA’s success provides a model for the rest of the industry. 

“Having said that, it must also be recognised that what Singapore has achieved may be harder to implement in other jurisdictions. Laxer regulatory regimes have, up to now, shown little if any willingness to tackle the fundamental problems of the industry,” it said.

The paper also said Singapore has demonstrated how MFM regulations could be introduced in the industry to support bunker suppliers and buyers with the technical mechanism for monitoring transactions accurately.

“Its all-encompassing approach to regulation has raised industry standards by transforming business practice across its supply chain. Singapore’s regulatory regime provides a solid foundation for the industry that should be emulated globally. The question for the industry is how best to put this into practice,” it said.

It described Singapore’s bunker fuel supply licensing programme as “robust, comprehensive and enforceable.”

The MPA has licensing requirements for all four different levels of service providers: bunker surveyors, bunker tankers, bunker tanker operators and physical suppliers. These requirements can and do change frequently. In addition, all members of the bunker supply chain, as well as others (including vessels taking bunkers), must abide by a common set of standards governing bunkering activity in the port.

These include SS 600, Singapore Standard Code of Practice for Bunkering; SS 648, Singapore Standard Code of Practice for Bunker Mass Flow Metering; SS 524, Singapore Standard Specification for Quality Management for Bunker Supply Chain; and the Singapore MPA’s Standards for Port Limit Bunker Tankers.

“Singapore’s all-encompassing approach to regulation was a rational response to extreme circumstances,” the paper stated.

“Prior to licensing, its bunker supply community’s reputation had been badly tarnished by repeated scandals. Introducing a rigorous regulatory regime has brought much-needed order and clarity. Singapore is now widely regarded as one of the best places in the world to conduct bunkering business. All this has been achieved without damaging the port’s competitiveness.”

The paper concluded that marine fuel suppliers must progressively introduce ISO 22192-compliant MFM systems, not just where it is mandatory, but at other international locations.

“Shipowners and fuel buyers should aim to continue to buy from these suppliers even if headline prices move higher,” it concluded.

The paper was endorsed by industry stakeholders including Lloyd’s Register, Hafnia, Golden Ocean, Cepsa, Metcore International Pte Ltd and Fratelli Cosulich. 

Note: The full white paper titled ‘Modernising marine fuel delivery’ can be viewed here

Related: TFG Marine chartered barge fitted with Metcore certified mass flow metering system
Related: TFG Marine: Mandatory MFM move in Antwerp-Bruges and Rotterdam is a ‘step in the right direction’
Related: TFG Marine: All hands on deck for greater transparency in the bunkering industry


Photo credit: TFG Marine
Published: 10 January, 2024

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Mass Flowmeter

Endress+Hauser factory tour series: Finer points of MFM design, explained by R&D

Manifold Times visits Endress+Hauser Flow’s factory at Reinach close to Basel, Switzerland to find out what it takes to develop and produce custody transfer MFMs widely used by the Singapore bunkering market.





EHFL Reinach Manifold Times Martin Anklin Promass F MEKR 014 V3 MT

Manifold Times gained exclusive access into the mass flowmeter (MFM) production factory of Reinach-based Endress+Hauser Flow in Switzerland during February. This will be the first in a series of five articles produced offering behind-the-scenes glimpses of the intricate process on what goes into perfecting MFMs.

The following are key takeaways from the tour to understand more about MFM design and production:

Singapore’s bunkering sector, under the purview of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), has depended on mass flowmeters (MFMs) to create a level playing field for marine refuelling operations since its gradual implementation from 2012.

By the end of 2023, approximately more than 340 million metric tonnes (mt) of bunker fuel would have flowed through MFMs installed onboard Singapore bunker tankers.

Arguably, the enhanced transparency and integrity brought by MFM technology have cemented Singapore’s position as the premier bunkering port of the world.

This development has led Manifold Times to Reinach, Switzerland to learn more about MFM technology manufactured by Endress+Hauser Flow – the dominate MFM vendor chosen by Singapore’s bunkering sector.

A physicist by training, Martin Anklin, Head of Department Coriolis Sensors, Endress+Hauser Flow, who has been working for the company for over 20 years welcomed the Singapore bunkering publication at its Reinach factory. He believes people to be the foundation behind every quality Swiss product produced by the company.

“I'm deeply convinced that when you want to get to the bottom of what's doable with the Coriolis measuring principle, you need good and motivated people with a lot of experience.” he said.

202205245503 MT

Research & Development – The ‘bend’ of bunkering MFMs

Anklin shared MFMs used for bunkering, such as the Proline Promass F Coriolis flowmeter widely installed on Singapore bunker tankers, starts with the product idea driven by market demand.

It has taken several years of predevelopment and industrialisation while taking into consideration factors such as measurement uncertainty, environmental conditions, required flow rate, application conditions, industry standards and safety.

It is highly important for bunkering MFMs to use Coriolis technology as it is less affected by aeration compared to other measuring technologies while offering long-term stability when compared to mechanical meters.

A challenge faced by MFM designers is balancing the amount of bend and number of oscillating flow tubes to introduce within the device.

“Generally speaking, multi-tube measuring systems lead to a better balanced MFM compared to single tube MFM. This results in higher repeatability and zero-point stability. A single-tube design would not deliver the repeatability and zero-point stability required for the variety of fuel oils,” Anklin explained.

“The more bent, the more Coriolis force is available for the measurement. However, large bends tend to trap air which results in bad measuring performance. Further, the more bent the bulkier the MFM becomes, which takes up more space onboard a bunker tanker while introducing additional costs for piping.

“With the Promass F we have found a compact solution which has a slight bend while having two oscillating flow tubes for precision. This makes it a very well balanced MFM having a compact footprint.”

MFM testing rigs MT

In-house Swiss quality checks – Testing rigs galore

Manifold Times was next taken to the basement of the Reinach production plant and was surprised to find approximately 100 hardware testing rigs specially designed for abusing MFM protypes in the location.

“We do have numerous rigs to do qualification, where we really aim to rigorously test the meters before they are put out into the market,” revealed Anklin.

Prototypes are pressure tested to the stage of deformity to see how long performance is maintained during operation even far beyond specs. Engineers also test units for temperature shock, saltwater resistance, vibration, humidity, and more.

“Bunkering presents a challenging application for MFMs. Equipment which is installed on bunker tankers are exposed to high humidity, aggressive salty atmosphere, and vibration. Safety is a key aspect on bunker tankers. Therefore, the mechanical integrity of a MFM plays a major role,” he says.

“The MFM is designed and tested according to marine class standards to confirm its suitability for this harsh environment. Performance of the custody flowmeter must be good and installation effects must be diminished close to zero.”

Endress Hauser Gruppenbild 038 1 RZ master MT

Verifying the in-house MFM bunkering algorithm

Anklin highlighted bunkering as being known for its challenge of dealing with aerated fuel oil. As such, Endress+Hauser Flow has developed an intelligent algorithm which measures aerated fuel with custody transfer accuracy.

“It was a challenge developing bunkering algorithms being able to produce repeatable results based on the theory and physics behind aerated conditions with actual real-world conditions. This was also the reason why Endress+Hauser cooperated with a bunker tanker operator at Singapore port to test out the algorithm prior to commercial deployment,” he shared.

“We had to test the algorithm on all sides which includes field tests on the bunker tanker to see how the meter with the algorithm performs in various situations.

“And this also means much cooperation and communication, since the people conducting the measurement on the land are not the same as the people doing the testing on the waterfront. Further, both are not the same as the people that do the physics and analytical calculations.

“It is essential for the group to develop an excellent cooperation and build up upon the knowledge create a fully working product for the bunkering sector.”


Photo credit: Endress+Hauser
Published: 15 July 2024

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Mass Flowmeter

2050 Marine Energy Owner Adrian Tolson to discuss global MFM adoption in webinar

BIMCO’s 30-minute webinar, titled ‘Getting what you pay for – a novel concept in bunkering?’ will begin at 12:00 UTC on 12 June.





2050 Marine Energy Owner Adrian Tolson to discuss global MFM adoption in webinar

International shipping association BIMCO will be organising a 15+15 webinar featuring 2050 Marine Energy Owner Adrian Tolson on Wednesday (12 June).

Early in 2024, Tolson published a White Paper arguing for the global adoption of calibrated mass flow meters (MFMs) in the bunkering industry. 

He argued that this progress will bring much-needed transparency to bunkering by generating accurate, real-time data for all stakeholders along the marine fuel supply chain. 

Describing the problems for the industry caused by inaccurate quantity measurement he sets out a number of remedial actions.

The paper recognises the success of Singapore’s MFM based bunker licensing system and proposes this as a template for regulators in other regions across the world. 

It calls on all supply chain participants to actively support MFM-based deliveries, promote transparency and encourage digitalisation in the long-term interests of the bunker industry and to help further the decarbonisation goals of the shipping industry. 

“This 15+15 will explore these ideas and assess if there is a chance for real progress,” BIMCO said on its website.

The 30-minute webinar, titled Getting what you pay for – a novel concept in bunkering? begins at 12:00 UTC.

The 15+15 weekly webinars are a 30-minute webinar which includes a 15-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute Q&A.

Note: Those who are interested in attending the online event, can register here


Photo credit: BIMCO
Published: 11 June, 2024

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Alternative Fuels

First SIMOPS methanol bunkering operation completed in Singapore

X-Press Feeder container vessel was successfully refuelled with close to 300 mt of bio-methanol by bunker supplier GET; use of MFM system and digital bunkering was also trialled during SIMOPS.





First SIMOPS methanol bunkering operation completed in Singapore

X-Press Feeders, Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), and PSA Singapore (PSA) have successfully completed the first simultaneous methanol bunkering and cargo operation (SIMOPS) in Singapore on Monday (27 May), according to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. 

A X-Press Feeder container vessel on its maiden voyage from Asia to Europe was successfully refuelled with close to 300 metric tonnes (mt) of bio-methanol by GET, a MPA licensed bunker supplier, using MT KARA, a dedicated IMO type II chemical bunker tanker classified by Bureau Veritas and operated by Stellar Shipmanagement Services. 

The use of the mass flow metering (MFM) system for methanol, together with the use of digital bunkering, was also trialled during the SIMOPS. This follows the inaugural ship-to-containership methanol bunkering for the Laura Maersk in July 2023, and the successful ship-to-ship methanol bunkering of close to 1,340 metric tonnes of blended methanol for the Stena Prosperous on 24 May.

With these operations, the Port of Singapore is ready for commercial scale operations for shore-to-ship, ship-to-ship, and SIMOPS for methanol, and the same methodology is being followed for other new maritime fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen.

First SIMOPS methanol bunkering operation completed in Singapore

The SIMOPS was conducted at the new Tuas Port with the support of MPA, together with various government agencies and local research institutions. 

The methanol bunker fuel was supplied simultaneously while the container vessel was completing container moves. SIMOPS is the preferred mode of operation for container vessels to enhance operational efficiency. The cargo operation was carried out with the use of PSA’s double trolley quay cranes and automated guided vehicles at Tuas Port. The SIMOPS was completed in four hours. 

The ISCC-certified bio-methanol used for the SIMOPS was produced by OCI Global, a world-leading green methanol producer, and supplied via GET, a ISCC-certified supplier. The fuel was lifted at Vopak Penjuru Terminal, Singapore, which is a ISCC-certified storage facility for biofuels and methanol.

A Hazard Identification (HAZID) and Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP) workshop was organised by MPA in the lead up to the SIMOPS. Adapting the experience from previous operations, participants from various government agencies, industry, and local research institutions, discussed potential risks and developed the corresponding prevention, control, and mitigation methods to address them. The bunkering plan was also discussed, and the various roles and responsibilities were clarified to ensure a coordinated cross-agency response in an event of an incident. To ensure all participants were familiar with the required procedures and safety measures, a tabletop exercise was also carried out with the relevant stakeholders after the workshop.

To ensure the safe conduct of the SIMOPS, MPA had worked closely with the bunkering stakeholders to ensure that crew members are competent and trained in handling methanol as a marine fuel and associated emergency responses. 

As part of the preparations for the methanol bunkering operations on 24 May and 27 May, the crew from Kara had also attended the MPA-approved training course for the handling of methanol as a fuel that was conducted by the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA), which is part of the Marine Energy Training Facility (METF) announced at Singapore Maritime Week 2024. For new fuels such as methanol, ammonia and hydrogen, all crew are expected to undergo the new training.

Feedback from these initial batches will inform the course development by tripartite partners and our research community.

The Emergency Operations Centre set up at MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre monitored the operations, supported by a drone equipped with volatile organic compound detector and infrared camera to detect methanol leaks into the atmosphere and methanol flames in the event of an incident. MPA also worked with the Meteorological Service of Singapore to provide advance warning on lightning risk. Representatives from X-Press Feeders, GET, PSA, local research institutions, and other government agencies were also at the EOC as part of the emergency response team.

The methanol plume model, which was employed during the first methanol bunkering operation conducted in Singapore in July 2023, was enhanced to support the operation planning and incident response plan. The updated model incorporated specific SIMOPs parameters, including vessels’ structure, port configuration and infrastructure, and proximity of simultaneous activities being conducted during the SIMOPS. At steady state, the digital models will be used to support commercial scale operations in the Port of Singapore.

Following the completion of the world’s first ship-to-containership methanol bunkering in Singapore last year, MPA launched an expression of interest (EOI) for the supply of methanol as a marine fuel in Singapore. A total of 50 submissions from over 60 regional and international companies comprising energy companies, fuel suppliers, traders, bunker operators, and storage companies were received. The strong industry interest signals clear business confidence in Singapore as a key offtake location for methanol and provides strong indications that the industry is preparing for methanol bunker demand to scale up in the coming years. MPA will call for applications for a license to supply methanol blends as a marine fuel in Singapore before the end of the year.

First SIMOPS methanol bunkering operation completed in Singapore

MPA is currently developing the Technical Reference for methanol bunkering, which will include the framework to govern the use of MFM and digital bunkering for methanol. MPA will also study further enhancements for the IMO Type II chemical bunker tanker as part of its ongoing work to develop the methanol bunkering licensing framework and Port Limit Bunker Tanker requirements for methanol bunkering. Insights from the EOI submissions will also inform the development of the methanol bunkering regulatory framework to ensure the safe and efficient supply of methanol blends as a marine fuel in Singapore at a commercial scale.

MPA has implemented digital bunkering since 1 November 2023, making Singapore the first port in the world to commence end-to-end digital bunkering operations. As part of on-going enhancements to allow MPA-approved digital bunkering solutions to be compatible for use with the bunkering of new fuels, the digital bunkering trial conducted as part of the SIMOPs has demonstrated the ability to transmit the essential methanol bunkering information electronically to various stakeholders and MPA, enabling near real-time visibility of the bunker delivery process. The potential to fully digitalise the bunker delivery process, including the bunkering of new fuels, will lead to significant time and cost savings for the entire maritime community, and will be part of the licensing requirements.

MPA, together with 22 partners, including leading global marine engine manufacturers, will establish the METF which will collectively train over 10,000 seafarers and shore-based staff by the 2030s. The METF will be based on a decentralised network of training facilities based in Singapore. It will tap on partners’ assets and technologies to train the workforce on the safe handling, emergency response, and incident management involving future marine fuels such as methanol, ammonia and hydrogen.

Mr Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive, MPA, said: “The successful execution of the SIMOPS is the outcome of many months of preparation for tripartite stakeholders to plan, prepare, and train to ensure the safety of the crew, port and vessel, while maintaining a high level of efficiency.”

“The learnings gained from these operations will help to further refine the various SOPs and safety measures.”

“We thank all our SIMOPS partners in helping to achieve this and we look forward to working with other like-minded partners, including on the use of digital bunkering and mass flow meter solutions, to operationalise the delivery of the new  marine fuels in Singapore.”

Mr Francis Goh, Chief Operating Officer at X-Press Feeders, said: "Today marks a historic milestone for both Singapore and the global maritime industry. Our vessel was not just the first to berth alongside here in Singapore and refuelled with green methanol, which reduces carbon emissions by 65% as compared to conventional marine fuel, but we were also the first in Singapore to achieve this while simultaneously loading and discharging cargo.”

“These achievements demonstrate Singapore's position at the forefront of the global maritime industry's transition to renewable fuels. By working together collaboratively, we can achieve even greater progress.”

Related: Singapore bunkering sector enters milestone with first methanol marine refuelling op
Related: Singapore reaches new milestone with methanol bunkering op of “Stena Prosperous”
Related: SMW 2024: MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels
Related: SMW 2024: MPA receives 50 submissions for EOI to supply methanol bunker fuel in Singapore


Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 27 May 2024

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