Low-sulfur fuel sales rose sharply in Rotterdam in the last quarter leading up to the implementation of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 0.5pc sulfur cap on 1 January.
According to Port of Rotterdam, the demand for LNG, bio and low-sulfur bunkers has increased enormously in Rotterdam over the past year. Total sales in this largest European bunker port fell from 9.5 million m3 to 9 million m3.
In the last quarter of 2019, sales of low-sulfur bunker oil with a maximum sulfur content of 0.5% – the so-called VLSFO, very low sulfur fuel oil – increased enormously. In December, 62 percent of the fuel oil sold was VLSFO, said Europe’s largest sea port.
Over the entire last quarter, 48% of the fuel oil sold was VLSFO. Its popularity has everything to do with new regulations.
As of 1 January 2020, the globally permitted sulfur content in marine fuel has been reduced from 3.5% to 0.5%. In the Netherlands and the other countries along the North Sea, the maximum sulfur content is even lower with 0.1% since 2015.
13 percent of this so-called Ultra Low Sulfur Fuel Oil was sold in the last quarter. The largest amount of bunkers sold in Rotterdam are for intercontinental transport.
In addition to the sales of VLSFO, the increase in sales of LNG (liquefied natural gas) bunkers also stood out. Sales more than tripled from 9,483 tonnes to 31,944 tonnes. For the first time, the sale of biofuel bunkers – bunker fuel to which a certain percentage of biofuel has been added – is also clearly visible in the figures.
Throughout 2019, 2% of sales of fuel oil and 0.5% of distillates (MGO – gas oil – and MDO – diesel oil) concern biofuel bunkers. Sales of biofuel bunkers increased in the fourth quarter in particular. The admixture percentages of these bunkers vary between 5 and 50%. Most common is 20-30%.