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Bunker Fuel Quality

The Shipowners’ Club: Introducing maritime technology to bunker fuel supply chain

Georgia Maltezou of The Club and Darren Shelton of FuelTrust share on how maritime technology can help shipowners and charterers ensure bunker fuel quality and quantity.




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Mutual insurance association The Shipowners’ Club on Thursday (28 September), together with FuelTrust, published an article on how shipowners and charterers can ensure bunker fuel quality and quantity through technology to reduce the financial impact of off-spec bunkers.

By Georgia Maltezou, LCC Manager - London, the Shipowners' Club and Darren Shelton, VP & Co-Founder, FuelTrust

Bunkering is one of the most common shipping operations occurring daily worldwide, irrespective of the type or size of the vessel. Supplying or receiving fuel happens on every single sea voyage but despite it being such a routine operation, there are still several disputes arising from it, especially with regards to the quality or quantity of the bunkers stemmed.

The possibility of placing off-spec bunkers onboard the vessel remains a constant worry for shipowners and the ship’s charterers, as its consequences can be detrimental. Burning off-spec bunkers raises immediate safety concerns and leaves the owners facing not only fuel system failures and engine breakdowns, but also loss of time, underperformance and delay claims, arrests, and the eventual cost of de-bunkering.

Bunker quality and quantity claims are usually quite complex and fact sensitive, so owners must be vigilant and act fast. Preserving evidence such as the consumption documentation, the relevant logbooks and checklists, the damaged parts and most importantly the fuel samples, is essential; cases are won or lost on evidence and the owners’ ability to prove a sufficient causal link between the bunkers and the damage to their vessel. Accurate and complete documentation is, therefore, crucial.

“Cases are won or lost on evidence and the owners’ ability to prove a sufficient casual link between the bunkers and the damage to their vessel,” said Georgia Maltezou.

Furthermore, owners and charterers will be aware that bunker supply contracts are typically drafted on the bunker suppliers’ terms and conditions which limit or even exclude entirely the supplier’s liability for quality or quantity claims. Bunker supply contracts often impose a very short timeframe for notification of claims (sometimes as short as seven days from the day of the supply of the bunkers) and failure to notify the potential quantity or quality issue within this timeline means that the claim is deemed waived. Whilst these short time frames can be contested in some jurisdictions, they may leave the owners or their time charterers with no avenue of recouping their losses.

In the event of a bunker related dispute, we recommend Members approach the Club’s LCC Team at an early stage. The team has considerable experience in handling these types of claims and will be able to provide prompt and accurate guidance to Members on how to deal with what can be time-consuming and challenging disputes.

In the following article, the latest in our Technology in Shipping series, the Club has invited FuelTrust, a GreenTech SaaS Company, who say they can assist shipowners and charterers to ensure the quality, quantity and compatibility of the fuel purchased, to explain how they feel they can harness technology to reduce the financial impact of bad fuel, mitigate the regulatory risk and empower greener fleets.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the idea of tracing fuel origins by measuring molecules seemed inconceivable. However, today we not only know it is possible, but also that there's significant value in examining the digital DNA of fuels. Understanding carbon intensity by individual parcels of fuel can help predict a vessel's emissions based on its unique engine combustion. This information is crucial for calculating potential taxes and credits, which have financial implications for ship owners and charterers.

Equally relevant is the issue of fraud, which has been prominent throughout maritime history. Advanced technology now allows principals to detect fuel quality disparities before making a purchase, minimising harm. If a problem arises after receiving the fuel, they can resolve it swiftly using machine learning atop lab analyses for evidence.

To address these concerns, FuelTrust has patented AI technologies that create chemical digital twins to track fuel lifecycles and identify molecular disparities. Certificates of quality reports from accredited labs ensure integrity for the machine learning and reliable data-driven calculations.

Modelling of fuels is key to reducing instances where contaminated fuels impact the market. FuelTrust's research reveals that between 2019 and 2022, over 39% of fuels globally had a content difference of 2% or more when comparing lab reports to delivery receipts. The primary cause was water introduced during delivery, resulting in average losses of US$ 14,910 per affected delivery. At scale this is costing the industry hundreds of millions of dollars, the majority of which is avoidable.

“Fuel quality assurance is achievable and risk can be mitigated, without question, by using the right solutions to source fuels from transparent suppliers,” said Darren Shelton.

Although the implementation of electronic mass flow meters has fortunately curbed fraud in the paper trail, the introduction of transitional and alternative fuels has created new challenges. FuelTrust's technology offers new confidence to principals, ensuring that sourced fuels are not only suitable for the engine but also align with what was paid for. When purchasing premium fuels to achieve sustainability goals, it’s critical buyers receive exactly what they ordered.

Fuel quality assurance is achievable and risk can be mitigated, without question, by using the right solutions to source fuels from transparent suppliers. If a claim does arise, stakeholders can resolve it quickly by working with a single, unbiased source of truth.

Detecting fraud remains a concern due to human predictability. Dilution of fuels, whether by water or some form of chemical contaminant as seen in recent cases in Houston and Singapore, will unfortunately continue. FuelTrust technology identifies fuel supply chains that introduce risks, enabling informed buying decisions by operators. Prudent procurement processes can safeguard against questionable suppliers and facilitate deals with trustworthy ones, benefiting everyone involved.

In the event contaminated fuel enters the market, FuelTrust's software alerts operators immediately if the AI detects a disparity in a lab analysis. Whether it's an alarming level of metals, a surprising amount of water or a significant disparity between side-by-side supplier and ship certificates of quality, this tool is considerably valuable for risk-averse buyers.

For this to work, fuel suppliers can seamlessly share their lab reports with buyers on the FuelTrust platform. This not only helps clients clearly identify fuel qualities but also validates the value of the suppliers' products. It's a win-win situation, preventing fraud, helping achieve Net Zero goals and supporting transparent suppliers of low-carbon fuels.

Many fuels that are considered "on-spec" still have quality issues that harm engines. Due to the broad nature of fuel specifications, numerous ships have suffered losses as a result of on-spec products, impacting the global supply chain. Ensuring fuel quality is a massive burden on the ship’s crew and shore staff, made more challenging by the difficulty of detecting disparities and filing related claims within contract deadlines.

A large portion of P&I claims are categorised as “machinery” issues and damage to main engines caused by off-spec bunkers has been identified as a common root cause for those claims. Reducing these impacts benefits all stakeholders in the supply chain.

Not only can fuels be sourced with minimal risk of fraud, but savvy buyers can also employ this technology to reduce their risks and improve their emissions profiles. This presents a new challenge for stakeholders: how to compare different fuels effectively.

Many alternative fuels that are being marketed show growing promise, but shipowners struggle to decide which dual-engine combination is the best investment. FuelTrust's technology enables a side-by-side comparison of fuel types and utilises existing data on a ship's historical performance to offer true by-ship, by-fuel, by-voyage insights taking into consideration carbon intensity, consumption and compliance. This detailed exploration helps owners determine the best path forward for their vessels.

Tracing a fuel's lifecycle solves major problems in the shipping industry. FuelTrust's patented technology allows a fuel to be tracked digitally, through its unique DNA, using lab data from stakeholders along the energy supply chain. It can be safely shared cryptographically offering transparency and provenance.

In addition to mitigating risks and resolving disputes, traceability provides much needed visibility into the Scope 3 supply chain, addressing a significant problem for the shipping and energy industries. FuelTrust's blockchain solution allows principals to see beyond the limitations of Scope 1 and 2 datasets, providing robust metrics to meet sustainability goals while satisfying regulators, boards and consumers’ concerns.

Through the invention of new technology, organisations like FuelTrust are not only helping shipowners to solve an age-old problem but also assisting the shipping industry as a whole to achieve Net Zero goals while mitigating risk from fraudulent fuels.

Photo credit: Chris Pagan on Unsplash
Published: 3 October, 2023

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DNV, VPS, ZeroNorth and Equatorial Marine Fuel among Marine Fuels 360 Award winners 

Informa Markets announced recipients to twelve open awards across four sectors – Shipping, Bunker Trade & Supply, Decarbonisation & Technology and Bunkering services – and three special awards.





DNV, VPS, ZeroNorth and Equatorial Marine Fuel among Marine Fuels 360 Award winners

Informa Markets on Wednesday (29 November) announced the recipients to the inaugural Marine Fuels 360 Awards 2023 at a Gala Dinner held at the Marina Bay Sands.

Twelve open awards across four sectors – Shipping, Bunker Trade & Supply, Decarbonisation & Technology and Bunkering services were conferred, evaluated by a panel of judges formed by industry thought-leaders.

The hotly contested Decarbonisation Technology Award was awarded to Anemoi Marine Technologies, with their Rotor Sails technology standing out as an innovative, safe and effective solution for reducing environmental impact of the shipping industry, as well as its potential for wide- scale adoption. 

Kim Diederichsen, CEO of Anemoi Marine Technologies, said: “What we do is we bring wind technology to the market, namely rotor sails. It's an honour being here, receiving this prestigious award this night.” Reducing fuel consumption and emissions on commercial vessels through utilising wind power for auxiliary propulsion, the technology can be adapted to various vessel types and sizes from existing vessels to newbuilds, to enhance their Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI).

TFG Marine Pte Ltd was awarded the Physical Supplier of the Year Award. It stands out as an industry leader for its scale of operations, proactive approach to decarbonisation, investment in technology, commitment to transparency and customer service. As one of the world’s largest physical bunker suppliers, TFG has delivered more than 10 million tons to over 480 clients globally over the last financial year. 

Marine Fuels 360 Conference
Marine Fuels 360 Awards

“TFG is very honoured to get this award and it's a recognition of the hard work and the good work we have done and also the milestones we have achieved so far for the whole of the year. We will continue to strive to provide good services and transparency to our customers, support all the alternative fuels and energy transitions across all spectrum”, said Soo Yong, Regional Bunker Sales.

Three special awards were also presented to celebrate the recognise the outstanding work and exemplary contributions to three individuals, recognising their performance in the bunkering industry – Industry Icon, CEO of the Year and Lifetime Achievement:

The Industry Icon Award goes to Mr Choong Kien Siong, President, Equatorial Marine Fuel Management Services Pte Ltd, who said: “It is a great honour to receive this prestigious award. Together withthe new generation, Equatorial Marine Fuel will continue to adapt and reinvent ourselves as we sail into the green economy.”

The CEO of the Year was presented to Mr. Russell Hardy, Group CEO, Vitol Services Ltd. Receiving the award on his behalf is Captain Rishab Bahl, Managing Director of Mansel Pte Ltd, said: “The maritime industry has committed to a major decarbonisation mission and this is not going to be without challenges. Our industry will turn to Singapore for leadership and our industry has committed to a major decarbonisation mission where we will support Singapore’s decarbonising journey.

The honorary Lifetime Achievement was also conferred to Capt. Rajesh Unni, Executive Chairman, Synergy Marine Group, who said: “If there is one thing that I have learnt, is that Singapore offersthe opportunity on the basis of meritocracy, there is hope for people to take and given their all and there is chance, so I am grateful for this country for giving us the opportunity and that I have made some impact in your life, that hopefully is my mission.

The full list of awardees as below:


Shipping Company of the Year - Hafnia
Ship Manager of the Year – Synergy Marine Group

Bunker Trade & Supply

Physical Supplier of the Year – TFG Marine Pte Ltd
Physical Trader of the Year - Minerva Bunkering Pte Ltd
Deal of the Year - Shell North America LNG
Alternative-Fuelled Vessel Design of the Year - Eaglestar Shipmanagement (S) Pte Ltd
Supply Chain & Logistics Excellence of the Year - TotalEnergies Marine Fuels Pte. Ltd.

Decarbonisation & Technology

Decarbonisation Technology - Anemoi Marine Technologies
Digitalisation- ZeroNorth
Start-Up of the Year - Njord

Bunkering Services

Classification Society - DNV
Marine Fuel Testing & Inspection Excellence - Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS)

Marine Fuels 360 Conference
DNV receiving the Classification Society Award
Marine Fuels 360 Conference
Captain Rahul Choudhuri, President, Strategic Partnerships at VPS receiving the Marine Fuel Testing & Inspection Excellence Award

Special Awards

Industry Icon – Mr Choong Kien Siong, Equatorial Marine Fuel Management Services Pte Ltd
CEO of the Year - Mr. Russell Hardy, Vitol Services Ltd
Lifetime Achievement – Capt. Rajesh Unni, Synergy Marine Group

Related: Singapore: President of Equatorial Marine Fuel Management Services receives ‘Industry Icon Award’
Related: ZeroNorth enables Golden Island to become Singapore’s first 100% digital bunker supplier
RelatedSingapore: Marine Fuels 360 Awards and Conference 2023 to bring together industry’s best

Photo credit: Informa Markets
Published: 1 December, 2023

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Bunker Fuel

Marine Fuels 360: Fingerprinting to play key role in proving biofuel feedstock authenticity and beyond, says VPS

‘The proof of sustainability will become really tricky going ahead. However, [VPS/GCMD] trials have proven biofuels possess fatty acid chains that produce a unique profiling,’ states Captain Rahul Choudhuri.





MF360 Rahul

The use of finger printing technology today will likely establish a blueprint of how future alternative bunker fuels’ feedstocks are authenticated, forecasts the President, Strategic Partnerships at marine fuels testing company VPS.

Captain Rahul Choudhuri was speaking amongst panellists in the Alternative Fuels Debate session at Marine Fuels 360 on Tuesday (28 November) when he gave an update of VPS’ biofuels finger printing trials with the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD).

“We are currently doing some really important and cutting-edge work together with GCMD in trying to fingerprint biofuels to enhance transparency and authenticity issues,” he stated.

“Biofuel feedstock comes from a variety of sources including edible vegetable oils, animal fat, waste, and components; but how do you figure out what the feedstock really was?”

According to Captain Choudhuri, the supply chain within the shipping and bunkering sector is “different” and prone to contamination or fraud.

Biofuel composition, supplied through several parties, could be inconsistent when delivered to the receiving vessel despite the product being subjected to the International Sustainability Carbon Certification (ISCC) programme.

“The proof of sustainability will become really tricky going ahead. However, [VPS/GCMD] trials have proven biofuels possess fatty acid chains that produce a unique profiling,” he noted.

“If you think your feedstock should be palm-based and the fingerprint shows clearly that it is not – then that’s it – because the fingerprint just doesn't fail irrespective of which country the biofuel comes from.

Captain Choudhuri, meanwhile, believes the use of finger printing for determining feedstocks of future marine fuels could prove challenging.

“It seems we need to dig in a little bit more and honestly, it’s a little trickier. But I am sure our current fingerprinting trials will offer a blueprint of how traceability of future bunker fuels including bio-methanol needs to be.”

Moving forward, Captain Choudhuri highlighted VPS was “very bullish” on the consumption of biofuels as a marine fuel.

“There has been a lot of first movers using biofuels; we've tested more than 1,000 biofuels samples globally over the last year or two, compared to less than a handful pre-COVID. The uptake has been very dramatic in the last two years,” he said.

“Since the beginning of this year, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore has recorded more than 400,000 mt of bio-VLSFO being delivered which was four times during the similar period in 2022.

“That’s a huge move and this is exactly what VPS expects it to be.”

Related: GCMD-led consortium completes trials of sustainable biofuel bunker supply chains
Related: Dr. Nicholas Clague shares VPS’ experience with alternative bunker fuels
Related: Dubai: Shipowners and peers discuss realities of biofuel adoption at VPS Biofuels Seminar
Related: Singapore: VPS panel discussion presents a masterclass in shipping’s biofuel bunker adoption issues to the deck

Photo credit: Informa
Published: 29 November 2023

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Digital platform

VPS: Using data to improve fuel procurement and fuel efficiency

John Oosthoek and Ruben Hofsli of marine fuels testing company VPS explore the pivotal role of data-driven decision-making in decarbonising the shipping industry.






John Oosthoek, VP Digital, and Ruben Hofsli, Maritime Decarbonisation Manager, of marine fuels testing company VPS, explore the pivotal role of data-driven decision-making in decarbonising the shipping industry, with a specific focus on how customers are harnessing its data analytics solutions such as PortStats and Maress: 

Maritime shipping, which already is the most carbon efficient way of transporting goods, accounts for over 80% of world trade transports and for only 2.1% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions (World Shipping Council, 2023). In this global industry, where ships navigate a myriad of issues in a ceaseless dance of commerce and transport, our customers are facing a critical challenge – decarbonising their fleet operations.

Illustrated by initiatives such as the carbon intensity indicator (CII), a regulation introduced by the IMO in 2022, as well as the European Union’s FuelEU maritime initiative entering into force in 2025, there are growing societal and regulatory pressures on the shipping sector to reduce their environmental footprint. Clear targets have been recently revised by the IMO: 20% emissions reduction by 2030 and 70% by 2040 to reach net zero by 2050.

A key aspect in the pathway towards decarbonisation of the shipping sector is the efficient use of marine fuels. The quality and composition of marine fuels directly impact vessel performance, environmental sustainability, and operational costs. As the global leader in testing the quality of marine fuels, VPS assists its customers to navigate the complexities of marine fuel procurement, -treatment and -management. In this article, we delve into the growing role of data-driven decision-making in the shipping industry, with a specific focus on how our customers are harnessing our data analytics solutions such as PortStats and Maress to optimise fuel procurement decision-making, prevent off-spec fuels from causing vessel downtime and reduce the environmental footprint of their fleet.

Using PortStats to anticipate fuel off-specs and optimise calorific value

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Let us consider the case of a fuel procurement Director at a large ship owner-operator. As this company both owns the vessels and operates them, any fuel costs, as well as costs due to unplanned maintenance events directly impact the company’s bottom-line. The fleet typically bunkers in hubs such as Singapore, Rotterdam and Houston, but also has some fuel deliveries planned in other ports such as Cartagena, Port Klang and Lome.

This user experienced two clear benefits from using our PortStats solution:

1. By using PortStats to benchmark their existing fuel deliveries in Singapore, Rotterdam and Houston, the company was able to cherry-pick the most reliable suppliers in these ports, whilst also getting higher calorific value fuels in the process. This saved the company ca. 80,000 MT of marine fuel per year purely on energy.

2. The company was also able to prevent off-specs from negatively affecting their vessels. The user noticed a relatively high number of cat fines and TSP off-specs with one of their short-listed suppliers.

Whilst this may have been the top choice based on price, the company used the quality scorecards feature in PortStats to evaluate the market situation, and ended up going with the slightly more expensive alternative, which had much lower AlSi and no TSP off-specs, thus mitigating any consequent risks for engine damage.

Poor fuel management is one of the top three immediate causes for main engine damage, with an average cost of ca. $344,000 per incident (The Swedish Club, 2018). PortStats helps users to prevent off-specs and to be aware of potential operational considerations based on the quality of the fuels before bunkering. Furthermore, as the calorific value of marine fuels is an important decision-making factor, PortStats makes this variable transparent, giving bunker buyers and traders and important lever in determining the true value of a bunker stem.

Using Maress to optimise fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions


Now let us consider the case of connecting data from ship-to-shore. Nowadays, the majority of shipowners have operational data flowing from their vessels to their shore facilities in one way or another. Some of them have advanced systems in place, with high frequency data being available, whilst others rely on noon-reports. Typically, the equipment and technology that is available differs from vessel to vessel. The challenge then becomes to assess whether the available data is good enough and how to utilise this data to gain valuable insights.

Maress is the VPS solution focused on helping shipowners to systemise the data they already have at their disposal. Through visualising and reporting this data, Maress creates data transparency for our customers when it comes to fuel consumption. As a result, these companies are able to increase their focus on fuel efficiency across the board - from the crew onboard of the vessels to the onshore operational staff supporting them.

Note: The full version of this article which includes how shipowner Tidewater used VPS’ Maress to improve fuel efficiency of its fleet, can be found here

Photo credit: VPS
Published: 22 November, 2023

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