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ExxonMobil’s mass flow metering system “sets the bar” for fuel delivery, says Lloyd's Register

ExxonMobil’s mass flow metering system “sets the bar” for fuel delivery, says Lloyd's Register

Concerns over the accuracy of fuel deliveries have been a long-standing issue for the marine industry, according to Singapore-based Douglas Raitt, Global FOBAS Manager at Lloyd's Register. “I’ve been in this industry for 15 years and outside of outright corrupt practices the biggest bunkering concern remains measurement accuracy. If you don’t measure accurately you will get variations.”

The overstatement of density is a significant issue, he added: “Quite often we get samples and the density is lower than what is stated. And we have seen a supplier offering two prices for the same product but from different barges. That’s fraudulent activity.”

The arrival of ExxonMobil’s mass flow metering system (MFMS) in Singapore and now Hong Kong has significantly helped to “put everyone on a level playing field,” although there was initially a lot of resistance from barge operators.

“We started on the journey six or seven years ago and people were trying to protect the old way. But the Singapore Maritime Port Authority was amazing in its approach and ensured that there was a controlled implementation of mass flow metering despite on-going arguments.”

According to Raitt, a MFMS isn’t a plug-and-play solution and as a result, the Singapore Maritime Port Authority wanted controlled implementation in order to ensure system integrity. “They did a thorough job and as a result people have started to change their opinions of mass flow metering,” he said.

“However, it is always good to work with third parties to help validate an installation,” Raitt continued, “so what we’re doing in Hong Kong with ExxonMobil has set the bar higher for the region as a whole. Together we’re pushing the global industry to best practices.”

If mass flow metering technology had been solely limited to Singapore, there was a real risk that bunkers would not be lifted there, attracted by cheaper options elsewhere, cautions Raitt. “Fortunately, we are already seeing a desire to implement MFMS elsewhere. It’s gaining momentum; people are ready to support quality and integrity for bunker deliveries.”

In Hong Kong, the MFMS barge used by ExxonMobil has been accredited by Lloyd’s Register using the expertise of Metcore International and the National Metrology Centre of Singapore, while the Maritime Port Authority in Singapore is accrediting every MFMS.