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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.




RESIZED Chris Pagan

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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Fuel Testing

Singapore: CTI-Maritec shares testing protocols ahead of mandatory enhanced bunker fuel checks

In light of mandatory enhanced checks for marine fuel delivered at Singapore port coming into effect on 1 June, CTI-Maritec shares recommendations for fuel testing protocols, primarily focused at COCs and SAN detection for bunker supply in Singapore.





Louis Reed from Unsplash

With mandatory enhanced checks for marine fuel delivered at Singapore port coming into effect on 1 June, bunker fuel testing and marine surveying business Maritec Pte Ltd (CTI-Maritec) has published a newsletter providing recommendations on vital pre-emptive fuel testing measures vessels should be taking as part of their routine fuel testing and also recommendations on optimal testing options available when deep-dive analysis is required to determine a root cause: 


On 8 February 2024 the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) issued a Port Marine Circular No 3 of 2024 regarding the implementation of enhanced testing parameters for marine fuel batches intended to be delivered as bunkers in the Port of Singapore in addition to the existing quality assurance measures.

In accordance with the MPA’s Port Marine Circular No 3 of 2024, from 1 June 2024 onwards, bunker suppliers in the Port of Singapore must ensure that:

  • Residual & Bio-residual bunker fuel do not contain Chlorinated Organic Compounds (COC) above 50mg/kg and are free from inorganic acids.
  • COC must be tested using the EN 14077 accredited test method and shall be reported in the “Certificate of Quality” (COQ) provided to receiving vessels.
  • Inorganic acids must use the ASTM D664 accredited test method as prescribed in ISO 8217 and the Strong Acid Number (SAN) (in addition to the Total Acid Number (TAN) shall be reported in the COQ (i.e. SAN = 0) provided to receiving vessels. For distillate / bio-distillate bunker marine fuel batches, SAN must be tested as per ASTM D664 test method and reported in the COQ.
  • Residual marine fuels are free from polystyrene, polypropylene & polymethacrylate. These can be tested by filtration, microscopic examination, & Fourier-Transform Infrared spectroscopy analysis.

Testing Recommendations in line with MPA Enhanced Parameters to Protect Your Vessels:

In view of the above, CTI-Maritec recommends fuel testing protocols as depicted in the chart below (as routine pre-emptive measures and/or for deep dive requirements to detect the root cause) to help safeguard vessel health.

Our recommendations are primarily focused at COCs and SAN detection for bunker supply in Singapore, while recommendations for testing Polymers are advised for requirements of reported problem cases or when highly abnormal GCMS findings of chemical compounds like Styrene, DCPD and Indene are detected.

COC & SAN GCMS testing Packages A to E

Related: Singapore: CTI-Maritec publishes whitepaper on upcoming mandatory enhanced bunker fuel tests
Related: Singapore: Marine fuel quality testing agencies applaud move for mandatory enhanced bunker fuel tests
Related: Singapore: MPA tightens testing parameters to reduce contaminated bunker fuels
Related: MPA: Glencore and PetroChina supplied contaminated bunkers to about 200 ships in the Port of Singapore


Photo credit: Louis Reed from Unsplash
Published: 29 May 2024

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VPS conducts assessment on first SIMOPS methanol bunkering op in Singapore

Firm was appointed by OCI Methanol Europe to conduct a quantity and quality assessment of a methanol bunker fuel delivery to “Eco Maestro” in Singapore.





VPS conducts assessment on first SIMOPS methanol bunkering op in Singapore

Marine fuels testing company VPS on Tuesday (28 May) said it was appointed by OCI Methanol Europe, part of the OCI Global Group, to conduct a quantity and quality assessment of a methanol fuel delivery to Eco Maestro in Singapore.

Captain Rahul Choudhuri, President Strategic Partnerships, VPS, said VPS survey experts Rafael Theseira and Muhd Nazmi Abdul Rahim were at hand during the methanol bunkering to ensure the 300 metric tonnes of methanol transfer was carried out smoothly, having been involved in the first methanol bunkering a year ago. 

Manifold Times recently reported X-Press Feeders, Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), and PSA Singapore (PSA) successfully completing the first simultaneous methanol bunkering and cargo operation (SIMOPS) in Singapore.

A X-Press Feeder container vessel, Eco Maestro, on its maiden voyage from Asia to Europe was successfully refuelled with close to 300 mt of bio-methanol by GET, a MPA licensed bunker supplier, using MT KARA

The ISCC-certified bio-methanol used for the SIMOPS was produced by green methanol producer OCI Global and supplied via GET, a ISCC-certified supplier.

Captain Choudhuri said the role of the marine, petroleum or bunker surveyor has evolved over the years in shipping and maritime affairs, but the principles have not - and that is to provide independent assessment of the quality and quantity of the product transfer. 

“This may seem obvious but this quality and quantity control is crucial to avoid commercial discrepancies, shortages or fraud,” he said.

“Safety training is critical and we have been on top of this having completed the required MPA fire-fighting course and the IBIA Methanol training course. We will work more with the Singapore Maritime Academy for trainings in future,” he added.

In August last year, Singapore-headquartered independent common carrier X-Press Feeders launched its first ever dual-fuel vessel Eco Maestro in China.

Manifold Times previously reported VPS stating it was the first company to complete a methanol bunker quantity survey (BQS) operation in Singapore on 27 July last year.

VPS was appointed by Maersk and Hong Lam Marine Pte Ltd, to undertake the very first bunker quantity survey (BQS) of a methanol fuel delivery, supplied by Hong Lam to the Maersk vessel on its maiden voyage to Europe. 

Related: First SIMOPS methanol bunkering operation completed in Singapore
Related: VPS completes quantity survey on Singapore’s first methanol bunkering op
Related: Singapore bunkering sector enters milestone with first methanol marine refuelling op
Related: X-Press Feeders launches its first methanol dual-fuel vessel “Eco Maestro” in China


Photo credit: VPS
Published: 29 May 2024

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Bunker Fuel

FOBAS issues industry update of new ISO 8217:2024 marine fuel specifications

FOBAS points out there are a number of significant changes to ISO 8217 as compared to 6th (2017) edition both in terms of extent and content.





RESIZED Hans Reniers on Unsplash

Lloyd’s Register Fuel Oil Bunkering Analysis and Advisory Service (FOBAS) on Thursday (16 May) released a bulletin to highlight significant changes to the ISO 8217:2024 as compared to the 6th (2017) edition.

This bulletin is to bring all clients' attention to the imminent publication of the new version of ISO 8217 and we will be updating again as soon as ISO secretariate uploads the final version of ISO 8217:2024 on its website.

The increasing demand of environmental legislation is leading a marine fuel transition towards oil products derived from synthetic and renewable, recycled or alternative sources. There are a number of significant changes as compared to the 6th (2017) edition both in terms of extent and content.

  • The most noticeable change is to the residual grades in that these will now be divided into three separate tables
    • 4 RM grades not exceeding 0.50% or 0.10% sulphur,
    • 5 RF (biofuel) grades covering unrestricted % FAME content
    • 5 RM grades above 0.50% sulphur.
  • Similarly for the distillates each of the grades, apart from DMX, has a corresponding FAME blend version of unrestricted %
  • In the case of the FAME blends, residual or distillate, the percentage of FAME component is to be advised to the receiver at delivery
  • The FAME used is generally to have met either the EN 14214 or ASTM D6751
  • The net specific energy is to be reported by the supplier
  • Suppliers to ensure all fuel grades are free of organic chlorides
  • Each of the category tables now includes specific reference to the normative paragraphs of the standard
  • The principal change to the residual grades is that these all now also include a minimum, in addition to the existing maximum, viscosity
  • To enhance control of asphaltene stability in the case of sulphur limited RM grades and the RF grades, this is now limited in terms of total sediment by thermal ageing to the same limit as before but additionally the accelerated and existent values are also to be reported by the supplier

It is also worth noting that generally the limit values, for both the distillates and residuals, have not fundamentally altered although for residuals there has been a redistribution across the reduced number of grades.

Lloyd’s Register FOBAS has been heavily involved in guiding and contributing as a member of the ISO and CIMAC fuels working groups and for our position we would highly recommend adopting this new standard in all fuel purchasing/sourcing processes whenever possible. We will have a number of additional testing options available which we will further explain on request.

As mentioned, a far more detailed bulletin will be issued shortly supported by a list of FAQ to further support your operations.


Photo credit: Hans Reniers on Unsplash
Published: 17 May 2024

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