A number of stakeholders in the shipping industry have partnered with Maritime Blockchain Labs (MBL) to work on a project that aims to use blockchain technologies to improve the traceability of the shipping fuel supply chain.

Led by MBL, which is a subsidiary of blockchain technology experts Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC), the consortium will assess how to harness blockchain to help shipping operators trace the source and quality of bunker fuels.

Lloyd’s Register, Precious Shipping, Bostomar, BIMCO, International Bunker Industry Association and GoodFuels are all part of the group, which will explore how the technologies can provide an “efficient, tamper-resistant and auditable chain of custody” for bunker fuels.

Following the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) plan to cut carbon emissions in half by 2020, the shipping industry is now under pressure to tackle air pollution and switch to sustainable fuels. According to the consortium, the trial will aim to help operators meet these new regulations and adapt to the IMO’s standards.

The group claimed it was planning to reduce safety risks and create a “more trustworthy framework for accurately monitoring emissions from shipping such as sulphur and carbon”.

Highlighting the benefits of blockchain for bunker BLOC CEO and co-founder Deanna MacDonald said: “MBL takes an industry-led approach –  meaning that the solutions will be identified, designed, and tested by the industry itself, with MBL facilitating governance and developing the technology to ensure these solutions are relevant and used.

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

Precious Shipping managing director Khalid Hashim added that the industry needs to have an improved visibility over fuel supply chains. “As an off-taker of marine fuels, 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,” he said. “Blockchain is ideally placed to create the reliable chain of custody we need to do this.”