Denmark-based shipping company AP Moller – Maersk has partnered with tank storage operator Royal Vopak to jointly launch a 0.5% sulphur fuel bunkering facility in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

To be situated at Vopak Terminal Europoort in Rotterdam, the facility will be designed to help vessels comply with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) upcoming regulation on sulphur cap.

Scheduled to become effective from 2020, the regulation mandates the ships across the globe to use fuel on-board with a sulphur content of no more than 0.50% mass/mass (m/m) compared to the current limit of 3.50%.

The proposed 0.5% sulphur fuel bunkering facility is expected to serve around 20% of Maersk’s global demand for fuel, allowing the company to deliver nearly 2.3 million metric tonnes per year.

It will also serve other third-party vessels trading with and inside Europe.

The facility will also facilitate safe blending, storing and handling of different types of fuel to ensure full compliance with the 0.5% sulphur cap.

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“We trust that this initiative will put to rest some of the concerns the industry has on fuel availability.”

Maersk Oil Trading head Niels Henrik Lindegaard said: “We trust that this initiative will put to rest some of the concerns the industry has on fuel availability, as well as secure our continued competitiveness in the market.”

IMO member states have recently noted that several reservations and challenges related to fuel handling and compatibility are yet to be addressed ahead of the new rule on sulphur cap.

Royal Vopak Global Oil director Hari Dattatreya said: “With AP Moller – Maersk as an anchor customer, Vopak demonstrates the focus to position itself in the 0.5% sulphur fuels bunker market.”

In June, Nederlandse Gasunie and Vopak initiative Gate terminal announced a plan to invest in its site in Rotterdam to increase the ship loading flow rate at the jetties for large ships from the current 2300m³/hour to 4000m³/hour to lower port time for vessels.