Bunker quantity shortchange still a risk despite MFMs, says North

North of England P&I has warned that shortchanging of bunker quantity in Singapore is still a danger even when mass flow meters (MFMs) are used, and has encouraged receiving vessels to continue to take soundings onboard before and after bunker delivery.

North referred to a recent case of piping irregularities on five bunker tankers operated by Panoil Petroleum. “The introduction of MFM for bunker operation in Singapore is a welcome development. Unfortunately it appears that although the equipment has changed, the behaviour of some unscrupulous suppliers has not,” the P&I club stated.

One danger of irregular piping could be that some quantity of bunkers are siphoned back into the bunker tanker tanks whilst bunkering is in progress. This would mean that the amount registered on the MFM totalizer is greater than that delivered to the vessel.

One of the potential drawbacks of MFMs is that they are considered the final arbiter of the amount received. Since January 1st 2017 the figure on the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) presented to the vessel has been the figure obtained from the MFM.

Bunker barges do not accept figures derived after calculating quantity received on board from soundings.

North said that soundings should still be taken on board before and after bunker delivery. If there is a difference from the MFM figure on the BDN, a letter of protest should be sent. North noted that bunker suppliers would likely refuse to acknowledge these letters of protest, but in the event of a dispute they would be evidence that there was a difference between the MFM figure and the figure obtained by the sounding method. Charterers should be informed of any difference immediately.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has temporarily suspended the operations of five MFM-equipped bunker tankers of Panoil Petroleum due to irregularities with the vessels’ piping fixtures.

Singapore-based bunker tanker owner and supplier Sinanju Tankers Holdings has offered a three-month complimentary service of providing an independent MPA-licensed bunker surveyor onboard to assist the crew of visiting ships in familiarising themselves with MFM bunkering procedures. Sinanju said that some ship operators and crew remained unfamiliar with the MFM bunkering equipment and procedures used in Singapore. http://www.nepia.com/insights/industry-news/bunker-quantity-disputes-mass-flow-meters/