Sound advice on MFMs from P&I club

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

23 March 2017


Last week the Maritme and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) temporarily suspended the licences five Panoil Petroleum bunker tankers equipped with mass flow meters (MFM) citing “irregularities” with the vessels' piping fixtures although MPA did say that the integrity of the MFMs remained intact. Following the suspension the North of England P&I Club has offered some further advice to its members detailing a possible reason for the suspension and highlighting an issue that may exist with some MFMs. According to the club, 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). One of the roles of the bunker surveyor is to check the integrity of this system. Since 1 January 2017, the figure on the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) presented to the vessel in Singapore is the figure obtained from the MFM. Bunker barges do not accept figures derived after calculating quantity received on board from soundings, nor do they participate in the sounding process. However, the club advise that ‘Soundings should still be taken 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’. The club also said that while bunker suppliers will not usually accept these letters of protest or will refuse to sign, the event of a dispute, they are evidence to show a difference between the MFM figure and the figure obtained by the sounding method. Charterers should be informed of any difference immediately. The use of 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, is recommended.