International trade to push up fuel oil consumption in shipping

17/07/2007 15:00

The supply of fuel oil for international shipping (bunkering) continues to rise. The annual amount of bunker fuel taken in by large ocean vessels in Dutch ports increased from 11 million tonnes in 1990 to 14 million tonnes in 2000 and rose further over the period 2000-2006 to a record amount of nearly 18 million tonnes. The increase totals more than 30 percent in six years due enhanced trade with distant countries.

Fuel consumption by type of transport

Fuel consumption by type of transport

Transport sector largest consumer

The total volume of petroleum products manufactured in the Netherlands increased marginally in 2006 to 60 million tonnes. In addition, over 73 million tonnes were imported and more than 84 tonnes exported. This results in a net consumption of 49 million tonnes of petroleum products for domestic purposes and international transport. With 10.5 million tonnes, the petrochemical industry is one of the main consumers. The largest consumer is the transport sector, accounting for 33 million tonnes, including 18 million tonnes of fuel oil for international shipping, 11 million tonnes of motor fuels for road transport and nearly 4 million tonnes of  kerosene oil for international air transport.

Consumption of petroleum products, 2006

Consumption of petroleum products, 2006

Sharp increase fuel oil consumption in shipping

Fuel oil consumption in international shipping has increased sharply in recent years. Until 1997, consumption in road traffic and shipping increased in the same proportion, but after 1997 fuel oil consumption in shipping has grown faster than in road traffic save during the 2003 economic downturn. The amount of bunker oil in 2006 equalled nearly one quarter of total energy consumption in the Netherlands, as against over one sixth in 1990. Bunker oil is not included in Dutch energy consumption as consumption takes place outside the Netherlands.

Transport volume of ships sailing from Dutch ports by destination

Transport volume of ships sailing from Dutch ports by destination

Boosting trade with distant countries

The growing demand for heavy fuel oil is due to the sharp increase in trade with distant countries. Vessels become larger and their number increases. Larger vessels require more energy for their propulsion. Between 1996 and 2005, the number of vessels sailing to China from Dutch ports increased and the volume of goods transported to China increased tenfold. The volume of goods transported to Brazil and neighbouring countries increased threefold. Currently, China and Brazil outdo various other important destinations like the US and Singapore.

Sander Brummelkamp and Ram Sardjoepersad