Why Singapore Marine Fuels Sector Remains An Ideal Port for Refueling?


Singapore, also known as the world’s largest bunkering port, is completing its fifth anniversary of using mass flowmeter (MFM) technology for marine refuelling operations coming 1 January, 2022, reports Manifold Times.

MFM technology

Since 1 January 2017, the local bunkering sector has been conducting MFM bunkering operations for all marine fuel oil (MFO) deliveries; the programme was extended to include distillate deliveries from 1 July 2019.

By the end of 2021, approximately more than 240 million metric tonnes (mt) of marine fuel would have flowed through MFMs installed onboard Singapore bunker tankers.


To date, use of MFM technology has enhanced transparency and integrity in the bunkering process; the system has acted as a deterrent to curb bunker malpractice and fraudulent results, while also securing the republic’s position as a trusted global bunkering hub, learns Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times.

MFMs Create a Level Playing Field

“Singapore’s MFM bunkering system has created a level playing field using smart technology. It has also removed unprofessional and unscrupulous operators,” says Caroline Yang, President of the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA).

“Combined with the rigorous implementation and governance from the MPA, MFMs have provided shipowners greater assurance when lifting fuels in the port of Singapore.”

The efficiency, productivity and transparency of bunkering operations has been greatly enhanced due to a combination of MFM installations onboard Singapore bunker tankers and mandatory written standards such as the Code of Practice for Bunker Mass Flow Metering (SS648), explains Yang, also the Chief Executive of Singapore bunker supplier Hong Lam Marine.

“Furthermore, with the robust monitoring, stern and swift enforcement by the MPA of suppliers who fall foul of the MFM regulation, ship owners are assured that the quantity ordered will be the quantity delivered,” she adds.

Use of MFM technology has also allowed for contactless bunkering operations to be conducted at the port of Singapore in order to minimise the possible spread of the Covid-19 virus.

“This means that shore personnel, such as bunker surveyors, do not come into direct contact with bunker tanker crew,” notes Yang.

“Since MPA mandated the use of MFM in January 2017, bunkers lifted in the port of Singapore has been hovering around 50 million tonnes annually.”

Positive Paradigm Shift in International Bunkering Industry Association 

“The mandatory implementation of MFMs for bunkering has brought about a positive paradigm shift for the Singapore bunkering industry,” shares Alex Tang, Regional Manager Asia for the International Bunkering Industry Association (IBIA).

“MFMs have not only allowed the local market to use a standardise and transparent methodology to quantify bunker sales, it has also resulted in a psychological shift in the mindset of buyers and sellers as confidence in the bunker trade has been established using technological means.”

The biggest advantage offered by MFM technology is of the measurement being directly calculated in mass, with no volume conversion required, according to Tang.

“This eradicates disputes derived from the traditional method of sounding measurement which entails a large amount of uncertainties from various permutations of parameters (i.e. density and temperature of the cargo, draft readings, tank calibration validity, etc.),” he says.

Since quantity disputes have been largely reduced due MFMs, this also decreased the amount of time spent on administrative processes on claim settlements.

Lloyd’s Register

“Since 2015, LR has accredited about 20 bunker tankers with MFM systems. Of course, one can argue the number is small compared to the hundreds of tankers accredited at Singapore but let’s not forget that these 20 bunker tankers were accredited on a voluntary basis as there was no local regulations complying them to do so.”

MFM technology has even allowed a client of LR to complete more bunker deliveries, due to lesser time being spent on settling daily quantity disputes and conducting inventory checks (due to its bi-directional measurement capability), he notes.

According to Pang, SS648 and the Technical Reference for Bunker Mass Flow Metering (TR48) continues to remain as the most common standard within the bunkering industry.

“Prior to the launch of ISO 22192, SS648 and TR48 were the only specific guidelines available for MFM bunkering,” he states.

“These standards don’t just deal with the MFM itself but rather the overall bunkering system onboard the barge, from pipeline system integrity to operating procedures.”

MFMs a ‘Proven’ Technology for Bunkering

“MFM systems have been proven to minimise measurement errors and disputes ever since its implementation in Singapore from 2017,” observes Darrick Pang, Managing Director of Metcore International, a Singapore-based Authorised Verifier and consultant for MFM systems.

“A proper and comprehensive MFM certification program that integrates continuous monitoring makes all the difference in reducing custody transfer risks.”

Improved accuracy of data recorded by the onboard MFM system, backed by expert consultants trained in scrutinising and interpreting the data to detect the possibility of malpractices, has resulted in major positive effects such as increased efficiency, contactless bunker operations and data-driven dispute resolution for Singapore’s bunkering sector, asserts Pang.

“Ultimately, the successful utilisation of MFM systems in preventing malpractices hinges on the effective management controls introduced through continuous monitoring, timely verifications and regular training of the crew’s competency in operating the MFM system during the custody transfer bunkering process,” he states.

“If correctly captured, the data MFM systems provide form a solid and trustworthy foundation to support digital transactions used by blockchain technology.”

Equatorial Marine Fuel Management Services – MFMs Promote Singapore Values of Transparency and Integrity

“Dealing in Singapore has always been about transparency and integrity, the implementation of MFM has definitely put the Singapore bunkering sector a step ahead in this regard,” he explains.

Endress+Hauser – MFMs to assist Singapore in the next era of cleaner fuels and digital transformation

Mohamed Abdenbi, Business Process Consultant – Bunkering & Fuel Supply Chain at Endress+Hauser, highlights MFMs have reinforced Singapore’s position as the number one bunkering port and has pushed others to follow the republic’s lead.

MFM in barges

MFMs installed onboard bunker barges have proven to be very accurate and reliable in the long-term – a fact which has been confirmed through the biannual MFM zero verification and annual verification against a master meter over the past two years.

Digital communication

Further, the digital communication capabilities of MFMs mean the units are able to provide a large amount of information about their health status, process conditions and measurement data.

“We can help our customer and the industry exploit this huge information potential while ensuring data security and integrity is still maintained.  This is what we have been doing in the digitalisation of Singapore’s bunkering operations project led by MPA,” he states.

“In addition to that, for digitalisation to deliver all its potential, it must be integrated throughout the whole supply chain. This is where the installation of MFMs at various hotspots within the bunker fuel supply chain is important, in order to monitor fuel oil transfer in and out from the terminal.”

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Source: Manifold Times


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