Europe & Africa Fuel Availability Outlook 20 March 2024

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In Northwest Europe, bunker fuel availability is generally good, with Rotterdam and the wider ARA hub seeing satisfactory lead times for VLSFO, HSFO, and LSMGO. The region’s fuel oil stocks have notably increased, with the UK being the largest fuel oil import source, reports Engine.

Northwest Europe

Bunker fuel availability is good in Rotterdam and in the wider ARA hub. Lead times of 4-5 days are recommended for VLSFO and 4-6 days for HSFO. LSMGO can be delivered with shorter lead times of 2-4 days.

The ARA’s fuel oil stocks have grown to their highest monthly levels since April 2021. The region has imported 280,000 b/d of fuel oil so far this month, up from 256,000 b/d in February, according to data from cargo tracker Vortexa.

The UK has been the ARA’s biggest fuel oil import source so far this month, accounting for 24% of the region’s total imports. Lithuania has ranked second, accounting for 16% of the total imports, followed by Poland (11%), Mexico and Germany (10% each).

The ARA hub’s independent gasoil inventories — which include diesel and heating oil — have increased by 7% so far this month.

Bunker fuel availability is normal in the German port of Hamburg, a trader says. Lead times of 3-5 days are advised for all grades. Bunkering may be disrupted on Friday amid a forecast of wind gusts of 20 knots in the area.

Off Skaw, lead times of 5-7 days are still recommended for VLSFO and LSMGO, according to a trader. HSFO supply continues to be tight, with stems only available for non-prompt delivery dates. A trader recommends lead times of 7-10 days for the high-sulphur grade. Bunkering disruptions may arise due to the rough weather forecast off Skaw on Wednesday and Thursday, a source said.

Mediterranean

Bunker fuel availability has been good for all grades in Gibraltar, a trader said. Lead times of 5-6 days are recommended for HSFO, while LSMGO and VLSFO are available with short lead times of 2-4 days. Rough weather is forecast in Gibraltar and the nearby Algeciras port on Thursday, which may hamper bunkering. Strong wind gusts of 25 knots are forecast for Thursday in the Gibraltar Strait.

Bunker fuel availability in the Canary Islands’ port of Las Palmas has improved this week after the extreme supply tightness seen last week. Most suppliers are able to offer prompt delivery dates across all three grades, according to a trader. Rough weather in Las Palmas may hamper bunkering on Thursday and Friday.

Other Mediterranean ports of Piraeus, Istanbul and Malta offshore are facing very low demand, a trader says.

Bunker fuel availability is currently normal in the Greek port of Piraeus, a trader says. Prompt delivery dates are available across all grades. Bunkering may be impacted on Wednesday, with wind gusts of 25 knots forecast. Bad weather is also forecast for next Monday, which could disrupt bunkering.

HSFO is tight off Malta for prompt delivery, a trader told ENGINE. Bunkering is expected to progress smoothly off Malta for the rest of this week amid conducive weather conditions. But bad weather is forecast for next Monday and could impact bunkering in the region.

Turkey’s Istanbul has normal availability across all grades. Prompt supply for all grades is available, a trader says. The weather is forecast to remain calm for the rest of this week, which could facilitate smooth bunkering operations.

Africa

VLSFO availability is normal for non-prompt deliveries in the South African ports of Durban and Richards Bay. A trader advises lead times of 7-10 days for VLSFO in both ports.

LSMGO supply is very tight in Durban, with supply running dry in the port, a trader says. Lead times of well over ten days are recommended for the grade. Wind gusts of 25-26 knots are forecast in Durban on Thursday and Friday, which could trigger bunker disruptions.

High bunker demand in Durban has increased waiting times for vessels seeking bunkers in the port. A tanker that arrived for bunkers on Saturday was able to secure berthing space only on Monday, resulting in a 48-hour delay, shipping agent Trade Ocean said. The delay in berthing allocation was due to congestion at tanker berths, which are the only berths authorised by the port for tanker bunkering, it added.

Simone Piredda, a trading manager at Monjasa, also confirmed that South African ports have been witnessing increased waiting times for supplies due to higher bunker demand.

The ongoing Red Sea crisis has compelled shipping companies to opt for a longer route around the Cape of Good Hope, leading to heightened bunker demand at South African and other ports along this route.

No bunker backlogs have been reported in Namibia’s Walvis Bay, which has witnessed high bunker demand since the Red Sea crisis began last year.

Monjasa has been among the most active physical suppliers off Walvis Bay in the past two months, as per the data from fuel testing labs that ENGINE has access to. Other active players have been Oryx Energies, TFG Marine and Bunker One.

According to Piredda, Namibia’s Walvis Bay continues to witness high bunker demand compared to the same period last year. Despite more ships arriving for bunkers, the average waiting time for bunkering has not increased, Piredda added.

Six months have passed since offshore bunkering was suspended in South Africa’s Algoa Bay last September. The suspension was enforced after the South African Revenue Service (SARS) detained bunker barges over import duty disputes. Since then, only in-port deliveries have been offered by one supplier in Port Elizabeth. Bunkering is only available by truck in Port Elizabeth. Negotiations are still ongoing between suppliers and SARS, a source said.

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Source: Engine