From 1 January 2026, the use of a bunker measurement system (such as a Mass Flow Meter) for bunker vessels in the ports of Antwerp-Bruges and Rotterdam will be mandatory. From this point onwards, bunker vessels in the two ports must have a certified system that indicates the exact amount of fuel they are delivering to seagoing vessels.
With this measure, the port authorities aim to make the bunker market of Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Rotterdam more transparent, efficient and reliable.
At the end of last year, the two ports announced that they would make it a requirement for bunker vessels to have a certified bunker measurement system on board. This follows independent research in Antwerp and Zeebrugge, and Rotterdam, which revealed recurring quantity issues in the bunker market.
In the past months, the ports consulted with various stakeholders to understand the needs and wishes. Together, the parties outlined a realistic roadmap to implement the bunker measurement system. In addition, the practicalities of introducing the system had to be thoroughly checked with regard to the differing legislative frameworks in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Currently, 40 out of 170 bunker vessels in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Zeebrugge are equipped with a bunker measurement system. The port authorities are therefore aware that this measure will have a major impact on the bunker market. By selecting 1 January 2026 as the start date, the various companies in the bunker chain have sufficient time to adapt to the new measure.
This future requirement was already included in the permits for bunker vessels in the port of Antwerp-Bruges. The permit for bunker transporters in Rotterdam is yet to be updated. At the trade conference ARACON, which will be held on 19 and 20 October, the two ports will give a status update.
Earlier last year, The Ports conducted a study regarding Bunker Quantity
Both the Port of Antwerp-Bruges and the Port of Rotterdam Authority were told from different sides that there would be regular problems regarding the supply of bunker fuels. To investigate the extent and nature of these complaints, the port authorities commissioned independent research and consultancy firm CE Delft to look into the experiences of the parties involved in the bunker market. This study was conducted through interviews and surveys.
The conclusion is twofold: there are similarities between the two ports and there are structural quantity problems in the bunker market. 80-90% of the survey respondents recognise the issues outlined.
65% of stakeholders interviewed and over 90% of survey respondents see the introduction of the mandatory use of an official bunker measuring system on board bunker vessels as a solution to quantity problems. A bunker measuring system measures the amount of fuel delivered in real time rather than calculating it from tank level measurements on board the bunker vessel (the methodology currently used as standard).
The Harbour Master of Rotterdam and the Harbour Master of Antwerp-Bruges are working closely together in the coming period to introduce a uniform requirement for a bunker measuring system. This will be done in consultation with Belgian and Dutch stakeholders.
Source Port of Rotterdam