It looks like the bunkering problems are endless, even around the major ports globally. Recently, many shipping companies have reported that they experience problems when they bunker their vessels in Rotterdam. The problem is so serious, that there are now companies who consider to take the situation in their own hands and make uncommon proposals to their bunker suppliers.
Several shipping companies were recently approached to comment on this issue and all of them advised that it is very common to face several problems when their ships are lifting bunkers from Rotterdam. Taking a poor-quality service from local suppliers appears to be common, while the actual quantity delivered is usually lower than what buyers are paying for.
To deal with the issue of short delivery, Singapore authorities have recently introduced the Mass Flow Meters. The use of MFM increases transparency and ensures that buyers are taking the right quantity and pay for the actually quantity delivered. However, authorities in Rotterdam and the nearest port of North Europe have not taken any action to address this issue and the problems exaggerate creating frustration among the shipping companies.
According to the General Manager for bunkers at Hafnia Management, Peter Grünwaldt, when buying bunkers in Rotterdam the difficulties in bunker deliveries and the arguments about the final quantity delivered onboard the ships are much more frequent than in other ports. Similar opinion is shared by the Head of Bunkers at Norden, who says that discrepancies in quantity delivered is very common in Rotterdam. Norden is lifting about 10% of its total bunkers from Rotterdam and the neighboring ports, therefore it has a precise picture of the situation in the area.
A usual tactic used by the bunker suppliers to add pressure on the vessel’s crew is arriving alongside the vessel with delay; a little before the vessel is ready to depart. In this case, when a discrepancy arises the captain does not have much time to discuss with suppliers, evaluate and resolve the issue and as a result there are many cases that the vessels sail by accepting a possible small loss from the bunker delivery.
Shipping companies believe that most of those problems might be avoided with the use of Mass Flow Meters, both companies explain and they are wondering why the Dutch authorities have not followed the paradigm of Singapore, which has been so successful in practice.
To overcome this issue, Hafnia Management has made a proposal to its suppliers in Rotterdam to voluntarily install MFM on their barges and by return the company to fix long term contract with them as a reward. The cost of such a MFM is estimated at around $100,000 and suppliers usually pass on the cost to their clients through a slightly higher bunker cost. Hafnia is prepared to discuss and agree with its suppliers to cover part of the investment through such long-term supply contract.
According to Grünwaldt, the suppliers who will consider their proposal, will win in the long run, while the shipping companies will also be benefited by more accurate quantity results and less waiting time in ports, despite the fact that bunkers may, at first, be slightly more expensive. “That’s one of the positive things we’ve seen in Singapore,” Grünwaldt concludes about Hafnia’s proposal for the barges to install mass flow meters, which Norden describes as “an interesting idea.”