Fuel Quality

Priority: to improve fuel quality with a bunker licensing system


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

KVNR - Nick Lurkin - Klimaat en Milieu - web


Nick Lurkin
Climate and Environment

+31 10 2176 275

KVNR - Nathan Habers - Public Relations, Crisisco├Ârdinatie en Geopolitiek - web
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 and seen as a disposer of waste products in illegal activities. 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 substances that are prohibited in them.

Subsequently, we as a maritime sector argue for a structural solution to prevent illegal admixture practices, thus striving for quality bunker fuels. Transparency and reliability in the entire bunker supply chain are essential to accomplish this – as is the case when we fill up our car at a petrol station. Shipowners want to be able to act in good faith.

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 bunker operators operate in accordance with the license.

A licensing system must also prevent prohibited harmful substances being illegally mixed with marine fuels.

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 and quantity.

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 the first licensing systems in these ports. This can then be rolled out to other ports in Europe and beyond.

State of play - 5 February 2021

The Port of Rotterdam, as the first and largest bunkering port in Europe, introduced a bunkering license system on 1 January 2021. The requirements for bunker fuel suppliers to obtain a bunkering license will be tightened in the coming years.

Partly at the insistence of the KVNR, this permit system may call for bunker barges to install annually calibrated and certified ‘mass flow meters’ from 1 January 2023 onwards. This should go a long way to improve accuracy and to reduce disputes about the quantity of fuel delivered – also in the interest of transparency.