New regulations prompt Rotterdam green fuel surge

More stringent sulphur requirements for shipping in the North Sea have driven up demand.

Rotterdam, one of the world’s largest bunkering ports, has seen sales of low-sulphur gas oil and diesel almost triple.

The port saw 1.8m-cbm of the greener fuels sold last year compared to the 700,000-cbm in 2014, port authority figures show.

“The increase is due to the more stringent sulphur requirements for shipping in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea,” the port said.

The increase in sales of low-sulphur fuels came despite deliveries of all bunkers remaining largely unchanged from a year ago at 10.6m-cbm.

The tripling of sales of gas oil and diesel came at the expense of the sales of fuel oil, which fell from 9.8 to 8.7m-cbm.

However, the use of low-sulphur fuels by the shipping sector may be more than the 2015 figures of Rotterdam show, according to the port.

“The adoption of more stringent sulphur requirements for maritime shipping in the Emission Control Areas (ECAs) North Sea, Baltic Sea and the coasts along the US has resulted in the introduction of new products by the market,” it said.

“This includes the production of so-called ‘ECA fuels’, while ultra-low sulphur fuel oil (ULSFO) is now also available on the market.

“The sales of these new products are not specifically reflected in the figures of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.”

Rotterdam port authorities say they welcome the increased sales of these greener fuels and that it is committed to cleaner shipping.

As part of these efforts it is investing in Rotterdam to be an LNG hub and stimulating the transition from fuel oil to LNG as a bunker fuel.

The Port Authority expects that the first sea-going vessel will be able to bunker LNG in the port via a bunkering vessel in 2017.