Bunker measuring system mandatory in Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Rotterdam ©Ries van Wendel de Joode

Mandatory measuring
for ARA ports

Authorities for Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge and plan to make the bunker market “more reliable” in move welcomed by IBIA

Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority and Port of Rotterdam Authority have announced that they will mandate the use a bunker measuring system, such as a mass flow meter (MFM), “on board bunker vessels to measure the exact amount of fuel delivered to sea-going vessels”.

March 8, 2023

According to the two port authorities, the move follows an independent study in both Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge which showed regular quantity issues in the bunker market. With the measure, the port authorities say they aim to make the ARA bunker market more transparent, efficient and reliable.


During the first half of 2023 the port authorities intend to 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.


A joint statement says: “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 will greatly improve efficiency. After all, data from transactions can be read digitally and immediately processed in the accounts.”


IBIA has issued a statement welcoming the decision and calling for more ports to follow suit. It says: “Port authorities have taken an important step toward improving transparency and reliability in the ARA bunker market by agreeing to mandate the use of a bunker measuring system (BMS) for bunker supply vessels operating in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge.”


The decision follows an independent study, through interviews and surveys, undertaken by CE Delft for all three ports. The CE Delft study outcome is similar to the findings of an extensive survey undertaken by IBIA and BIMCO in the first half of 2022, which found strong industry support for bunker supplier licensing and more use of mass flow meters (MFMs). These are seen as key tools for improving market conditions and reducing disputes between bunker suppliers and buyers. The survey was created by the IBIA Bunker Licensing & MFM Working Group, which representatives from both port authorities have taken part in.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority and the Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority, which commissioned the CE Delft study, said the study showed “regular quantity issues”. They said that 65% of stakeholders interviewed and over 90% of survey respondents saw the introduction of the mandatory use of an official bunker measuring system on board bunker vessels as a solution to quantity problems. IBIA supported the additional research effort by the port authorities by sharing information, and a link to the survey conducted by CE Delft, with its members.


“The ports have taken onboard complaints from various parties about regular bunker quantity irregularities. The result of the study into to the extent and nature of these complaints has given them impetus to act. IBIA applauds their decision and calls for other relevant authorities to follow suit,” says Unni Einemo, Director of IBIA.


Regarding the equipment to be used, IBIA noted that some of those currently in use in the three ports are MFM of the type that are mandatory for bunker deliveries in Singapore. Others are volumetric flow meters. IBIA says it has learnt that the BMS systems will need to be certified and comply with OIML regulations to be approved under the new requirement. OIML, the International Organization of Legal Metrology, enables standardisation when developing technical regulations.


Einemo concludes: “The introduction of certified and standardised bunker measuring systems as a requirement for bunker supply operations in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge should help to significantly reduce quantity issues and boost confidence in these ports’ bunkering services, which are already among the most efficient in the world. This should further improve efficiency and create a more level playing field for bunker companies in these ports.”


IBIA has confirmed its Bunker Licensing & MFM Working Group will continue to push for adoption of bunker licensing and uptake of MFM in other areas, in particular major bunkering hubs where such measures will have the most impact.

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