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MPA extends MFM mandate to distillates bunker fuel

SINGAPORE has taken one more step to align its marine fuel industry with an upcoming regulation aimed at cutting ship emissions.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore's (MPA) assistant CEO for operations Captain M Segar said at an industry dinner on Thursday the regulatory body will impose the use of mass flow meters (MFMs) for delivering cleaner-burning distillates bunker to international ships from July 2019.

To help marine fuel suppliers ready their fleet for the MFM mandate on distillate bunker delivery, MPA has set aside S$9 million to co-fund the costs of adopting MFMs, Cpt Segar said at the IBIA Asia Gala Dinner 2018.

The MFM mandate for distillates bunker will kick in about six months ahead of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO's) global sulphur cap.

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In October 2016, the IMO reached a decision to proceed with its plan to enforce a 0.5 per cent cap on sulphur content in marine fuels in 2020.

The intent of this global sulphur cap is to cut the emissions of sulphur dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is harmful to human health.

Switching from marine fuel oils (MFOs) - the de facto marine fuel choice - to distillates bunker is one option for shipowners to comply with the IMO 2020 global sulphur cap.

Cpt Segar's announcement on Thursday also signals the extension of MPA's MFM mandate to the delivery of distillate bunkers after it was enforced on delivery of MFOs in January 2017.

The use of MFMs, or essentially metered pipes, reduces human intervention in measuring marine fuel being transferred between buyers and sellers. This has helped reduce disputes between sellers and buyers and bolster efficiency of bunkering operations at the Port of Singapore.

Powering ships using distillates fuel is one option to meet the IMO sulphur cap. The other alternative is for shipowners to use liquefied natural gas as marine fuel. MPA has also extended grants to help defray the costs of building LNG-fuelled ships. Keppel Smit Towage, which was awarded a grant from MPA, will take delivery soon of the first-ever LNG dual fuel tug built in Singapore.