The number of vessels calling at Gibraltar for bunker fuel in 2022 is heading for the lowest annual total in at least 12 years, reports Ship&Bunker.
The Algeciras bunker market was historically focused on container ships, but more recently has started to compete more for sales to other shipping segments.
A total of 4,255 ships bunkered at Gibraltar in January-November of this year, down by 20.2% from the same period of 2021. On an annualised basis this year’s calls are heading for a total of about 4,642, the least since at least 2011, the earliest year for which data is available on the Gibraltar government’s website.
Gibraltar has seen tough competition from neighbouring Algeciras this year. The Algeciras bunker market was historically focused on container ships, but more recently has started to compete more for sales to other shipping segments. Gibraltar’s sales in 2022 have also been stymied by several weeks of disruption to bunkering in September following an oil spill from the breakup of the bulk carrier OS 35. The port saw just 209 bunker calls in September, 46% lower than the January-November average.
Bunker calls are a flawed indicator
Bunker calls are a flawed indicator of marine fuel sales at a port, as a change in the average size of a vessel seeking fuel can have a significant impact on total demand figures. But this year’s figures may point to sales at Algeciras overtaking Gibraltar for the first time.
Gibraltar’s bunker sales were about 4.3 million mt in 2021, according to Ship&Bunker estimates. Applying this year’s percentage decline in bunker calls in Gibraltar, sales would be heading for a 2022 total of 3.4 million mt.
Algeciras saw bunker sales of 3.5 million mt in January-November 2022, heading for a total of 3.8 million mt this year on an annualised basis and a jump of 30.7% from 2021’s levels. But Gibraltar has seen an increase in gross tonnage calling at the port despite the falling bunker calls, meaning its total demand may not have yet been overtaken by its neighbour.
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