Quantity matters
15th October 2012 04:34 GMT

In the wake of tightening shipping regulations, demand for bunker quantity measurement services through third party means has increased sharply over the years.

This can be attributed in part to fuel price trends since the mid-‘90s – as bunker fuel became increasingly expensive, ship owners began to see the merits of accurately measuring the quantity of fuel delivered during a bunkering operation in order to manage their cost exposures and minimize unnecessary losses due to discrepancies in fuel delivery.

It is also worth noting that with increasing stringency in sulphur regulations over the years and moving into the future, ship owners and operators have had, and will have, to amend their fuel choices in order to remain compliant. However, switching to bunker fuels that are lower in sulphur content also means that fuel costs can only go in one direction – up – never mind any predicted general price increases in the future for oil products. Because bunker fuel costs today account for a staggering 50% to 70% of a ship's entire operating expense, minute inaccuracies are able to impact operating costs in a significant manner.

Singapore, in particular, has seen a rise in demand for bunker quality and quantity surveying services that corresponds positively to the strong year-on-year growth in bunker sales volumes since the introduction of stringent national bunkering standards in the ‘90s, which have continued to keep pace with market and regulatory developments from the 2000s until now. The need for transparency and accountability in the bunkering process cemented the role of the third party surveyor in ensuring that a bunker delivery was carried out and compliant with standards, and that inconsistencies were traceable to their source.

In response to the steady demand for accurate and consistent measurement solutions, the mass flow meter has made its appearance on the bunkering industry stage. Developments such as these can be viewed as a natural progression from the manual measurement of fuel quantity to more technologically driven means, as it becomes easier for suppliers and buyers to expedite the custody transfer process without the crucial need for look-up tables and manual dips.

With governments and regulators in a bid to clamp down on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by the shipping industry, it is not unforeseeable that market based measures targeted at controlling GHG emissions could set off an explosion of accurate bunker quantity measurement - perhaps through mass flow meters - driven by the need for regulatory compliance and accurate accountability.

The potential growing adoption of mass flow metering technology in future, however, does not necessarily negate the role of the third party bunker surveyor. Bunker surveying companies will still play an integral part in the bunker supply chain – but realistically with more advanced skills and technical knowledge on mass flow metering technology.

Douglas Raitt,
15th October 2012 04:34 GMT

Comments on this Blog
Marco Antonio Costa Tritto
18th October 2012
Douglas, another very interesting reflexion. Having in bunker operations always two actors (shipowner / operator and supplier), the conflict can be happen and the surveyor plays its role. It doesn't matter if using tables or flow meter. As you said and I agree, 'with more advanced skills and technical knowledge on mass flow metering technology'. The history of mankind is full of good examples where the introduction of new technologies meant the re-learning. I would say that the success of any business, company or person is strong linked with their capacity to re-invent themselves.
Caroline Clarke
15th February 2013
Excellent initiatives being demonstrated here - and Marco that the industry fosters such initiatives - sublime. Kind regards Caroline
Caroline Clarke
15th February 2013
And, a given professionals ensures standards in accord - to appreciate ICT and impacts on. Kind regards Caroline
Graham Taylor
16th February 2013
are you people seriously saying a ship does not know how many tons of fuel it has had delivered, thats like going into a petrol/gas station and filling up the car without looking at the meter, and then asking the attendent to tell you how much you had, and you like the idiot you are will pay for it.

You have got to be having a laugh

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