Operators urged to take soundings in wake of Singapore piping 'irregularities'

Vessel operators advised to also use a 'reputable' bunker surveyor.

Image credit:

Updated on 21 Mar 2017 13:08 GMT

The North of England P&I Club (North) has urged ship operators to take the necessary precautions during bunker deliveries with mass flow meters (MFM) following recent revelations in Singapore about piping "irregularities".

A key reason for supplying bunkers through MFMs is to avoid discrepancies in the quantity of bunker supply, however, the P&I club explains that one implication of piping fixture irregularities may be that they allow some quantity of bunkers to be 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, with the vessel receiving less than that recorded.

Piping fixtures form an integral part of the MFM system, as specified in the Technical Reference for Bunker Mass Flow Metering (TR48). North points out that one of the roles of the bunker surveyor is to check the integrity of this system.

Since 1st January 2017, the figure on the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) presented to the vessel is the figure obtained from the MFM. Thus, bunker supply barges do not accept figures derived after calculating quantity received on board from soundings, nor do they participate in the sounding process.

However, North still advises vessel operators to take tank soundings on board before and after bunker delivery and, in case of a difference between the vessel figures and the BDN, letters of protest should be issued, North says.

"Bunker suppliers will not usually accept these letters of protest or will refuse to sign. But in the event of a dispute, they are evidence to show a difference between the MFM figure and the figure obtained by the sounding method," North explains.

The P&I club has also advised its members to inform charterers immediately about any discrepancies and to use a "reputable" bunker surveyor who can inspect the bunker barge lines for any irregularities in addition to cross-checking the seal verification report, inspecting the seals and taking MFM readings.