Inland shipping sector does not consider bunkering expensive biofuel

published: 17-06-2021

Shippers will start bunkering abroad en masse if they can only obtain diesel blends with biofuels in the Netherlands, whilst unblended diesel oil is available at significantly lower costs in neighbouring countries. According to Panteia, this so-called bunker tourism is no myth. Up to 83% of the current bunker volume in the Netherlands could be transported abroad.

Over 80% of the Dutch inland shipping companies are active in international transport. These ships regularly sail abroad and can therefore easily bunker 'cheaply' across the national border. It is obvious that chartering offices will be put under extra pressure for trips to Ghent/Antwerp or Duisburg in order to be able to bunker cheap fuel', according to Panteia.

80 euros more expensive
Earlier it became clear from a survey conducted by NOVE, the association of bunker companies, that the majority of Dutch shippers would not spare a single cent for bunkering biofuels. Panteia expects a price increase of 80 euros per cubic meter diesel oil from 2022, if the proposed blending of 16,4% bio-fuels to the conventional diesel oil is implemented. Bunker stations will be able to add FAME and the more expensive HVO themselves from next year, or choose to buy off their blending obligation. In both cases, this will result in additional costs for the customer. As it seems for now, this obliged blending will only be implemented in the Netherlands and therefore large price differences between fuel in the Netherlands (with bio components) and abroad (without bio components) will arise. 

Less CO2
Blending biodiesel produced from vegetable raw materials results in a sharp drop in CO2 emissions. The Dutch government wants the share of renewable fuels to be at least 16.4% next year. Out of a total of 3.1 million tons of CO2 emissions yearly emitted by inland navigation, the Ministry envisages a saving of 400,000 tons of CO2 per year by blending bio-fuels to the diesel oil. However, Panteia expects that total CO2 emissions from inland navigation in Europe will actually increase if the mixing requirement is solely introduced in the Netherlands. The minority of ships that would still bunker diesel oil in the Netherlands would save some 70,000 tons of CO2, but these savings will be offset by ships making detours to bunker cheaper diesel oil in Belgium or Germany.

Collapse of turnover for Dutch bunker stations.
Panteia concludes that the income of Dutch bunkering stations will fall from €390 million per year to €70 to €80 million per year.

Henk Wolthaus asked Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen on behalf of NOVE to take the implementation date of 1 January 2022 off the table. However, the minister was not willing to go that far. She does want to draw up a proposal for responsible blending in inland navigation together with parties in the sector.

Recently, the House of Representatives requested that the minister investigate any adverse technical malfunctions resulting from the use of biofuels in ship engines. A parliamentary majority also asked the minister not to enforce the blending requirement until it has been proven that biofuel is suitable, sustainable and safe.

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