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IBIA: Mandatory bunker measuring systems in ARA ports a welcome development

IBIA welcomes the mandatory bunker measuring systems in major ARA ports and calls for more ports to follow the same path.

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 comes afteran 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 our 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

said Unni Einemo, Director of IBIA.

During the first half of 2023, the port authorities will evaluate and identify suitable bunker measuring systems for the new requirement. They will also determine an “ambitious yet realistic deadline” for when it will become mandatory to use an approved BMS during bunkering operations in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge to give companies time to adapt to the new measure. The requirement will be included in the licence for bunker fuel suppliers.

According to the press release announcing their decision, 40 out of 170 bunker vessels currently operating in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge are equipped with a BMS. Some of these are mass flow meters (MFMs) of the type that are mandatory for bunker deliveries in Singapore. Others are volumetric flow meters.

IBIA 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.

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

Ms. Einemo concluded.

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