Clean ships

Fuel quality


“A bunker licensing system would guarantee consistent supply of high quality marine fuels. It could prevent illegal practices such as mixing fuels with banned (waste) substances.”

Priority KVNR: to improve fuel quality with a bunker licensing system

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Nick Lurkin
Climate and Environment

+31 10 2176 275

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Press inquiries


Nathan Habers
Public Relations

+31 10 2176 264


Seagoing ships are regularly provided with poor quality marine fuels during bunker stops. This can lead to various types of engine problems, which, in the worst case scenario, can result in a ship losing power. This obviously puts the ship and its crew in danger, with numerous associated consequences.

Additionally, the shipping sector does not want to be used as an illegal form of waste disposal. These practices are not only harmful to the marine environment, but also to the vessel’s crew who may be exposed to dangerous substances. In most bunker ports, there is currently minimal control of the quality of marine fuels and the presence of prohibited substances.

The shipping sector strives towards high quality bunker fuels and therefore advocates a structural solution that will prevent illegal fuel mixing.

Furthermore – just as car drivers expect when they refuel their car at a petrol station – shipowners want to be able to operate in good faith. Transparency and reliability in the entire bunker fuel supply chain are essential parts of this.

The challenge

Introducing a bunker licensing system would ensure greater transparency and reliability in the bunker supply chain. It is, however, of great importance that regular checks are carried out (by enforcement bodies or independent organisations) to ensure that operations occur in accordance with the license.

A licensing system must also prevent illegal mixing with prohibited harmful substances.

Singapore – the world’s largest bunker port – has been operating a bunker licensing system for a number of years already. Bunker suppliers there have to regularly renew their license and comply with stringent requirements concerning quality.

Since proposals for an IMO associated bunker licensing system have not got off to a good start, the KVNR has initiated various national and international consultations about the possible introduction of a licensing system in the ports of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp (ARA). Rotterdam and Antwerp, in particular, are the largest bunker ports in Europe. Therefore it is logical to set up a licensing system in these ports. This can then be rolled out to other ports in Europe and beyond.

State of play - 18 April 2019

In the port of Rotterdam, the largest bunker port in Europe, it is expected that a bunker licensing scheme will enter into force early 2019. This would be a first in Europe.