05 December 2023
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will launch the digital bunkering initiative on 1 November 2023, becoming the first port in the world to implement electronic bunker delivery notes (e-BDN). This was announced by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Acting Minister for Transport and Senior Minister of State for Finance during the International Safety@Sea Conference today.
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Bunkering is the process of supplying fuels to ships for their own use. Currently, the maritime industry relies on physical bunker delivery notes, a standard document required by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships that contains information on fuel oil delivery.
FuelTrust’s most recent research uses AI-based technology to investigate fraudulent practices, fuel discrepancies, and inadequate supply chain management in the bunker fuel industry.
Launch of Digital Bunkering
To boost efficiency and transparency during the bunkering process in Singapore, the MPA will launch its digital bunkering initiative to implement electronic bunkering processes and documentation, such as e-BDN, from 1 November 2023.
Over 100 trials have been conducted since January 2023, involving more than 20 companies in the Singapore bunkering ecosystem. Feedback from users will continue to be gathered to improve these solutions with plans to make digital bunkering a mandatory requirement by the end of 2024. Meanwhile, MPA will continue to explore and work with the industry on other enhancements, including automating the data flow from Mass Flow Meters.
Licensed bunker suppliers, ship owners, operators, and crew are encouraged to utilize the mobile and cloud solutions approved by MPA to complete and issue digital bunkering documents, which can save close to 40,000 man-days per year for the bunker industry. MPA has approved these solutions to ensure conformance to standards and that they meet cybersecurity, baseline functionality, risk management, and regulatory reporting requirements.
These digital solutions will automatically relay bunkering-related information required by MPA, thereby reducing compliance costs and improving productivity. The digital approach also streamlines workflow and enhances crew safety by eliminating the need for the physical transfer of bunker documents between vessels. Please refer to go.gov.sg/digital-bunkering for the current list of approved digital solutions, which will be progressively updated.
The industry-led Singapore Standards Council is developing a new Specification for digital bunkering supply chain documentation and revising the existing SS648:2019 Code of Practice of Bunker Mass Flow Metering to support electronic bunkering documentation. MPA is also working with Enterprise Singapore and Workforce Singapore to support maritime companies in the early adoption of digital bunkering and manpower upskilling. During the 80th Marine Environment Protection Committee session, the International Maritime Organization formally approved the use of electronic bunker delivery notes (e-BDNs). Hardcopy BDNs or e-BDNs are valid provided they meet the relevant requirements of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI.
Fuel tester VPS has confirmed a total of 60 high sulphur fuel oil-consuming (HSFO) ships, with the fuel identified as contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons. Certainly, all 60 ships bunkered with just two fuel suppliers in Singapore, the world’s largest bunkering hub. Note that, this coming from a total of 12 delivery barges in a timeframe from mid-February to mid-March. In total, VPS has identified 140,170 tonnes of contaminated fuel worth some $120m.
Particularly, one victim bunkered poor quality fuel which knocked out the power for a number of days. On a giant scrubber-fitted, HSFO-consuming valemax vessel.
Singapore’s contaminated bunker fuel outbreak is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars and keep lawyers busy for years to come.