MEPC81: Rotterdam Expects Commercial Ammonia Bunkering Operations in 2027

by Julian Macqueen, Senior Editor, Ship & Bunker
Wednesday March 20, 2024

A clearer picture of what a major bunkering centre will look like in the multi-fuel era could be seen in a presentation at MEPC81 by the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

Naomi van den Bern, the port's sustainability officer, and Cees Boon, who heads up harbour master policy, were on hand to run delegates through how far the port has got on delivering alternative fuels to commercial shipping.

Boon said the port had used a nine-stage template to develop its readiness to take on alternative marine fuels starting with research in the early stages to a full bunkering service.

Ammonia is at level six, he said. Pilot projects are planned next year with the first commercial bunkering operations expected in the port by 2027.

Methanol is further up the scale at level eight where a licencing system is being looked at for physical suppliers.

Liquefied natural gas, which has been the preferred choice of many ship operators in the emergent alternative fuels sector, is at level nine and has a comprehensive bunkering service in place.

Ship & Bunker asked Boon on the meeting sidelines if he could say when Rotterdam would become a fully-fledged, multi-fuel bunkering port. Would that be in five or ten years' time?

Boon said while the port is clearly progressing its capacity on new fuels, putting an exact date on Rotterdam reaching full maturity as a new fuels bunkering station would be difficult. 

"When the shipping companies are ready to sail with the new fuels, we must be ready," he said. It would depend, ultimately, on the "tempo of the market".

Boon said that the pace of development would be "about demand, availability, and safety".

"Each alternative bunker fuel will have its own development timeline," he added.