26 June 2015 – Under the auspices of the Institute if Marine Engineering Science and Technolpgy (IMarest) UAE branch, Ascenz Solutions from Singapore sponsored a technical meeting in Dubai on the topic – Mass Flow Meter (MFM) Bunkering as well as Remote Fuel Monitoring System in Bunker Barge, Merchant Vessel and Offshore segment.
The event was attended by 55 delegates from Africa, the Middle East & the Indian subcontinent. Ship owners/managers from Auburn Shipmanagement, UASC, Simatech, Mideast Shipmanagement, Arka Global Marine, PB Towage, Silver Star Ship Management, Eships Oldendorff Logistics, MSH Shipmanagement, Central Ship Management, E-Marine, ASCA Maritime, VM Marine Internationa & Emarat Maritime, top management of Arc Engineering, Drydocks World Dubai, McDermott Middle East, Flag Administrations of the Marshall Islands, inspectors from the Federal Transport Authority, suppliers/service companies from Seaborne International PET, Saifee Ship chandlers, Zener Automation, Transas, SteelCorr, Gulf Tubo, Smartech Automation Solutions & Unique System, independent surveyors from Noble Denton Marine Assurance & Advisory, Constellation Marine & Quest Marine, senior managers from Abu Dhabi Ports Company & Sharaf Ship Agency, ship brokers Middle East Marine and classification societies executives from DNV GL & LR were also present amongst the esteemed attendees.
At the onset Mr. Jerry Wang, Chief Commercial Officer Ascenz Solutions gave an overview of the $100Bn global marine fuel market. He then went onto describing the different grades & properties of HFO which forms the main part of a ship’s bunker and practical measurement challenges.
Bunker suppliers leverage on the fact that a viscous residual fuel readily traps air which it can retain for hours or even days. Some unscrupulous suppliers purposely inject compressed air into the bunkers resulting in a ‘cappuccino effect’ where the volume of the oil is increased through air entrapment, but the mass and hence commercial value of the oil remains the same. To complete a delivery and avoid oil spills, drips and fuel run back, bunker delivery points often purge the line with slugs of compressed air. This adds to air entrainment at the end of the delivery. Jerry played a video revealing ‘tank stripping’- another regular feature of bunkering operations whereby the remaining fuel and increasing amounts of air are pumped out of one storage tank on the bunker barge before the supply is switched to another tank. Some bunker barges may have up to 10 such fuel storage tanks. Consequently a high proportion of the bunker operation will include periods of tank stripping. Conventional mechanical flow meters are often unable to distinguish between entrapped air and a viscous liquid causing an incorrect recording of the quantity of fuel bunkered. Inevitably, this leads to a dispute between the bunker supplier and the receiving ship.
Notwithstanding the linear regression that Bunker prices have trended since mid-2014, Fuel remains the most significant slice of the opex for ship operators. Coupled with stricter regulatory requirements and an oversupply of tonnage; this has led to a paradigm shift in the now highly competitive shipping market. While each vessel has to compete in the charter market, fuel efficient vessels have a distinct advantage. It is therefore vital to have an insight into a ship’s performance and compare similar vessels in order to improve efficiency and competitiveness. Consequently, monitoring of fuel consumption is becoming business critical. As is well known, you can only manage what you measure – accurately. In terms of fuel, Jerry explained that the innovative Coriolis Mass Flow Meter (MFM) is a precise measuring device. The principle underlying direct mass flow measurement is the ‘Coriolis effect’ which is based on Newton’s 2nd law of motion (F=m x a).
Jerry explained that the MFM would change the face of bunkering forever. Additionally, there would be greater transparency in the ship speed & fuel consumption relationship. This is often the bone of contention between a charterer (who pays for the fuel) and the ship owner (who may at times be tempted to report exaggerated fuel consumption figures).
In order for the engineers to appreciate this technology, he displayed an actual MFM.
Jerry shared with the audience the formulation of a working group on Mass Flow Metering by different stakeholders in Singapore – the world’s largest bunker port (bunkering represents 7% of Singapore’s GDP). He highlighted the commencement of commercial bunker delivery using the accurate MFM system which obviates most bunker disagreements. This safeguards Singapore’s reputation as being a reliable port for bunkering operations. In fact, the MPA has stipulated MFM will be mandatory for Bunker suppliers from 1 Jan of 2017 in Singapore. This means all bunker tankers operating within Singapore waters must install MPA-approved MFM systems by 31 Dec 2016. In order to show their commitment towards this implementation, the MPA will offer an incentive of S$80,000 for each bunker tanker to offset a portion of the adoption cost for the MFM system.
ISO 13739 – ‘Procedures for Transfer of Bunkers to Vessels’ is based on the Singapore Standard SS 600: 2008 – Code of Practice for Bunkering, to further enhance consistency in practices in the delivery of bunkers for ships calling at Singapore’s port.
MFM facilitates reduced recording errors & yields the best fuel measurement data quality enabling the realistic performance benchmarking of a particular ship within a similar type & size peer group.
MFM is obviously becoming popular. 300 vessels are equipped with Ascenz MFM. Jerry displayed the tender technical specification of a new ship which required MFM to be installed to monitor Main Engine fuel consumption.
Responding to a question regarding tackling high water content in the bunkers, Jerry stated that shipping companies require safe and efficient bunkering, ensuring correct quality and quantity of oils. While the MFM monitors fuel quantity he clarified that it was necessary to continue Fuel Quality Testing e.g according to ISO8217 which enables comparing results against client’s fuel purchasing specification.
Nawal Saigal Executive Director of Arc Engineering who was in the audience remarked -“The IMarEST UAE Branch continues to provide the marine industry of the region with superior technical information as well as a platform for networking on a regular basis. Today’s presentation on Mass Flow Meters for measuring of fuel quantities on board ships allows a greater accuracy in measuring bunker received, obviates Bunker disputes and malpractices of logging false ship fuel consumption. The excellent discussion during and after the presentation gave an insight as to how keen the UAE vessel operators are in measuring the quality and quantity of fuel received and consumed onboard their ships”.
Capt. Sorab Bhathena, Managing Director of Seaspeed Marine Management who attended an IMarEST meeting for the first time candidly commented, “I particularly liked Mr Jerry Wang’s style of delivery. To be honest took a minute to get used to but once I caught on he had my full attention. I guess his well- timed humor held his audience captive. The subject itself was educative and an interesting choice given the fact that our vessels are always warned to be aware of the “cappuccino” effect in bunkering ops in Singapore. I’m looking forward to attending many more such sessions – Loved it.”
It was evident that the audience was very appreciative of the information. Their numerous questions and comments were challenging and interesting.
Whilst handing over a token of appreciation to Jerry, Honorary Secretary of the IMarEST – Nikeel Idnani said, “The purpose of these IMarEST technical meetings is to promote CPD, knowledge sharing & learning opportunities for the UAE maritime community. In order for this to happen, we require the support in terms of sponsorship from companies who are at the forefront of marine technology. One such company is Ascenz, the sponsor of today’s meeting. There is always a need to share knowledge and experiences, especially when attempting to modernize the age-old tradition of fuel measurement. Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it. We thank Ascenz for enlightening us on the challenges and proposing solutions for accurate fuel consumption monitoring. This allows transparency of ship operations and identifying significant fuel-saving measures”.
The evening culminated with an Iftar, the traditional meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset.