Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority and Port of Rotterdam Authority will make it mandatory to use a bunker measuring system (such as a Mass Flow Meter) on board bunker vessels to measure the exact amount of fuel delivered to sea-going vessels.
This follows an independent study in both Antwerp and Zeebrugge and Rotterdam, which showed regular quantity issues in the bunker market. With the measure, the port authorities aim to make the ARA bunker market more transparent, efficient and reliable.
During the first half of 2023, the port authorities will first identify suitable bunker measuring systems. They will also determine the date on which the obligation to bunker with a bunker measuring system on board bunkering vessels will enter into force in Antwerp and Zeebrugge as well as Rotterdam.
The port authorities are aware that this measure will have a major impact on the bunker market. Therefore, they choose an ambitious yet realistic deadline. The different companies in the bunker chain will be given sufficient time to adapt to this measure. The requirement will be included in the licence for bunker fuel suppliers. Currently, 40 out of 170 bunker vessels in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge are equipped with a bunker measuring system.
The introduction of a bunker measuring system is expected to greatly improve efficiency, with data from transactions able to be read digitally and immediately processed in the accounts.
Both the Port of Antwerp-Bruges and the Port of Rotterdam Authority were informed of regular problems regarding the supply of bunker fuels. To investigate the extent and nature of these complaints, the port authorities commissioned independent research and consultancy firm CE Delft to look into the experiences of the parties involved in the bunker market. This study was conducted through interviews and surveys.
The conclusion was twofold: there are similarities between the two ports and there are structural quantity problems in the bunker market. 80-90% of the survey respondents recognise the issues outlined.
Some 65% of stakeholders interviewed and over 90% of survey respondents see the introduction of the mandatory use of an official bunker measuring system on board bunker vessels as a solution to quantity problems. A bunker measuring system measures the amount of fuel delivered in real time rather than calculating it from tank level measurements on board the bunker vessel (the methodology currently used as standard).
The Harbour Master of Rotterdam and the Harbour Master of Antwerp-Bruges will be working closely together over the coming period to introduce a uniform requirement for a bunker measuring system. This will be done in consultation with Belgian and Dutch stakeholders.