The bunkering industry provided a good test case for the use of blockchain because it involves multiple and complex transactions ©123RF
The bunkering industry provided a good test case for the use of blockchain because it involves multiple and complex transactions ©123RF

Blockchain tested for bunkering supply chain

31 July 2018

A consortium of companies is developing blockchain technology to track bunkering supply chains.

Maritime Blockchain Labs (MBL), a subsidiary of Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC), said it was working with a number of industry players to see if the distributed ledger system can be used commercially to increase transparency and improve compliance in the bunkering supply chain.

It is hoped the technology will help shipping firms comply with the new 0.5% sulphur emission cap, set by the International Maritime Organization, which comes into force in 2020. Currently a ship is allowed to use fuel with a sulphur content of up to 3.5%.

Bunkering is the process of refuelling container ships, and the industry provided a good test case for the use of blockchain because it involves multiple and complex transactions, said MBL.

Khalid Hashim, managing director at Precious Shipping, said blockchain technology was “ideally placed” to map the bunkering supply chain and ensure compliance.

“It’s vital for us to ensure that the fuel we use is compliant – particularly when we think about the market post-2020, and the need to ensure the quality of blended products coming in to meet the 0.5% sulphur limit. Blockchain is ideally placed to create the reliable chain of custody we need to do this,” he said.

Deanna MacDonald, CEO and co-founder of BLOC, said the system would take “an industry-led approach”, where solutions would be identified, designed and trialled by businesses in the industry. “Too often with blockchain, and digital initiatives in shipping in general, we see a top-down approach where new technology is pushed on the industry,” she said.

“This means that complex human and governance elements are ignored, limiting the eventual adoption and usefulness of the technology.”

The project is being funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the charitable arm of the professional services organisation. Other members of the consortium include the shipping association BIMCO, International Bunker Industry Association, ship owner Precious Shipping, operator Bostomar Shipping and fuel supplier GoodFuels.

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