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Ship-to-ship bunkering can take place at different locations: along the quayside, at anchor or at sea. It is the most common bunkering method used for bunkering seagoing vessels with HFO and MGO. The capacity of bunkering vessels can range from 1,000 to 10,000 m3. Because of size limitations in some ports, only smaller bunkering vessels will be able to operate in the port area.


Compared with other bunkering methods, the flexibility of ship-to-ship bunkering is high with respect to capacity and bunkering location. Because the bunker vessels are moored alongside LNG-fuelled ships, this bunker method could permit simultaneous cargo handling if approved by the relevant authorities, such as the port authority.


The high investment costs for bunker vessels is considered the main barrier. The industry is hesitant to invest in such vessels, in part because they have only limited alternative operations when LNG bunker demand is limited. However, several are being built or planned for the Zeebrugge/Antwerp/Rotterdam/Amsterdam region. Because LNG bunker vessels are regarded as vessels carrying dangerous cargo, entering non-Petroleum Harbour areas has to be authorized.


Given the high flexibility of bunkering vessels, ship-to-ship bunkering is suitable for all types of vessels and is expected to become the main bunkering method for ships with a bunker demand of over 100 m3. This implies that ship-to-ship bunkering is most suitable for large vessels such as RoPax/RoRo vessels, bulk carriers and container vessels.

Further reading

LNG bunkering already possible

LNG is currently available as a bunker fuel for maritime and inland shipping at the WPCI ports of Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Zeebrugge and Stockholm. In addition, LNG can be bunkered at several Norwegian ports.