Vopak and Maersk to launch 0.5%S bunkering facility in Rotterdam

Anchor tenant Maersk to blend, store, handle and supply 2020-compliant fuel for ships calling at the Dutch port.

Vopak storage tank, pictured on September 17, 2013. Image credit: Jos @ FPS-Groningen Flickr CC BY 2.0

Updated on 20 Aug 2018 13:42 GMT

Royal Vopak has teamed up with A.P. Moller - Maersk to provide the Danish boxship operator with a 0.5-percent-sulphur-fuel bunkering facility at Europe's biggest bunkering port, Rotterdam.

The facility, located at Vopak Terminal Europoort, will enable Maersk to blend, store and handle different fuel types to ensure full compliance with the upcoming 0.5 percent global cap on fuel sulphur content in 2020.

As an anchor tenant in the modified facilities, Maersk, as well as any other interested third parties, will be able to supply vessels at the Dutch port with compliant fuels.

The joint initiative is expected to cater for around 2.3m metric tonnes per year - or roughly 20 percent of Maersk's global demand. As previously reported, Maersk consumed 6.131m tonnes of fuel in the first half of this year, and looks set to burn more than 12m tonnes in 2018 following November's acquisition of Hamburg Sud.

Commenting on the agreement, Maersk explained that its tie-up with Vopak addresses concerns regarding the handling and compatibility of fuels in the run-up to 2020.

"Member States within the International Maritime Organization, IMO, recently recognized that there are still some reservations and challenges relating to fuel handling and compatibility and this project plays a key role in providing A.P. Moller - Maersk with supply chain assurance looking at both quality and quantity of the compliant fuel," Maersk said.

"This long-term commitment with Vopak prepares A. P. Moller - Maersk for the paradigm shift of the 2020 IMO rules on sulphur, which will be a game changer for the entire industry," Maersk also noted.

Niels Henrik Lindegaard, Head of Maersk Oil Trading - ranked as Singapore's 27th-biggest bunker supplier in 2017 - remarked: "We trust that this initiative will put to rest some of the concerns the industry has on fuel availability as well as secure our continued competitiveness in the market."

Hari Dattatreya, Global Oil Director Royal Vopak, said: "We are very proud to serve A.P. Moller - Maersk with this dedicated 0.5% sulphur bunkering point in the heart of Rotterdam. With A.P. Moller - Maersk as an anchor customer, Vopak demonstrates the focus to position itself in the 0,5% sulphur fuels bunker market. We are dedicated to serve our customers to comply with the IMO 2020 regulations in the key global bunker hubs around the world."

Rotterdam bunker pricing

In its last financial report, released on Friday, Maersk observed that Rotterdam bunker prices in the second quarter (Q2) of 2018 were up year-on-year (YoY) by 43 percent, and 13 percent higher compared to Q1.

The shipper also posited that "forward market pricing points to bunker prices increasing by a further 2.4% in the second half of 2018 compared to Q2 2018. Thereafter, forward markets point to a 20% decline in bunker prices by Q4 2019".

"The anticipated decline [by Q4 2019] is driven by a wider bunker-crude oil spread, reflecting the market's view of the impact of the IMO 2020 sulphur regulations on demand for high[-]sulphur bunker fuels," Maersk added.