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IBIA welcomes mandatory bunker license scheme at Port of Rotterdam

10 Feb 2021

The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) on Friday (5 February) said it welcomes the mandatory license for bunker vessels in Rotterdam as a great step forward.

As of 1 February 2021, bunkering vessels operating in Europe’s biggest bunkering port, and one of the top three in the world, are required to have a license.

The bunker license for bunker fuel transporters covers the bunkering or debunkering of residual fuels and distillates (fuel oil and diesel) and biodiesel.

The Port of Rotterdam license requirement is the outcome of a detailed consultation process with a full range of stakeholders, both local and international. IBIA was among those consulted, and has been supportive of the development of a license system.

It has taken a huge and dedicated effort led by Ron van Gelder, working as a senior advisor for the Harbour Master Division, to get to this point.

The Port of Rotterdam has taken this step in a bid to improve transparency and trust in the bunker market, acknowledging that there have been serious concerns about discrepancies in bunker quantity and quality delivered at the port.

“The bunkering license promotes the transparency and traceability of the bunkering process and helps to better safeguard the quantity of bunkers that are delivered in Rotterdam,” said the port.

“The bunker license transporter is therefore of added value for the environment, society and the reputation of the port of Rotterdam as a bunkering port.”

The Port of Rotterdam added it has taken inspiration from the success of bunker licensing schemes in Singapore and Gibraltar in reducing disputes, and while its initial license is less comprehensive, it will be up for review and may be adapted.

Prior to the license requirement becoming mandatory on 1 February 2021, a total of 24 permits were issued to companies which together represent a fleet of 143 bunker vessels. The bunkering license for the carrier is valid until 1 February 2023.

Prior to the end of the first two years, there will be a review to evaluate the extent to which the license and the regulations need to be amended in response to the experience gained, for example by making a Mass Flow Meter (MFMs) mandatory.

IBIA said it had hoped the Port of Rotterdam and other ports in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) region would commit to make MFMs mandatory at the start of 2022. There was an ambition to do that during the consultation and planning period during 2019 and early in 2020. For now, it has proven too complex to set up a licensing scheme that covers the entire ARA region.

The Port of Rotterdam has explained that making MFM mandatory “could have a considerable impact on the operational management of the bunker transporters and must therefore be properly substantiated. A decision will be taken on this in 2022 after the evaluation.”

To monitor and trace where the discrepancies are in the bunker chain, the Port of Rotterdam, has set up a reporting centre for complaints, available to all parties in the bunker chain.

The board of IBIA stated it has made it a priority to push for implementation of bunkering licensing schemes, including mandatory MFMs, in the world’s top bunkering hubs.

Given the very positive impact that mandatory MFMs have had on the bunker market in Singapore, there is a strong argument for introducing this requirement in other major bunkering ports to enhance transparency and reliability regarding delivered volumes, as well as boosting efficiency of bunkering operations, and reducing disputes.

Photo credit: Port of Rotterdam
Published: 10 February, 2021

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