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Rotterdam sees spike in sales of 0.5% sulphur fuel ahead of IMO 2020

The port of Rotterdam has shared that sales of its very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) are generating increasing interest ahead of IMO 2020 with half of November sales being the 0.5% sulphur grade.

Data derived from the port’s TimeToBunkering app shows that VLSFO sales rose significantly over the past two months, with September at 1,700 tonnes, October at 32,000 tonnes and November at 95,000 tonnes. This means that the VLSFO percentage within total fuel oil sales grew from 1.8% in September to 51.6% in November.

“The TimeToBunker app has been used since February and is a huge success. Over a third of all bunkering notifications run via the app. I see no reason to assume that companies that still make standard bunkering notifications have completely different clients with completely different fuel oil purchasing behaviour,” said Ronald Backers, bunker expert at the Rotterdam port authority.

From 1 January 2020 under IMO’s Marpol Annex VI regulation, all sea-going ships can only use fuel with a maximum sulphur content of 0.5%, down from the current limit of 3.5%. The high sulphur bunkers will only be permitted on vessels that have installed scrubbers.

The Rotterdam port authority noted that although even stricter sulphur regulations apply to shipping on the North Sea and bunker oil may only contain 0.1% sulphur, many shipping companies in Rotterdam are ordering VLSFO because they also sail intercontinentally and not just across the North Sea.