The expansion of the Panama Canal to accommodate larger vessels has boosted the Caribbean island’s potential as an ideal bunkering location, says Chelsea Jaouli, Global Business Development Manager, Tropic Oil, reports Bunker Spot.
More ships transit the canal
Speaking during today’s Global Bunkering Summit 2021, Jaouli also highlighted the dredging of the main ship channel in Kingston which now allows the port to accommodate post-Panamax container vessels.
The Panama waterway expansion has ‘enabled over 35% more of the world’s fleet to transit the Canal, funnelling additional ships right past Kingston en route who could now do a bunker-only call with minimal deviation,’ said Jaouli.
‘In addition to all of this, legislation in the form of the SEZ Act was passed which allowed bunkering companies…to enjoy fiscal and other incentives to facilitate the growth of the sector.’
Jaouli continued: ‘Jamaica also has the only maritime university in the English-speaking Caribbean and has one of the top-ranked container transhipment facilities handling cargo down there – so Jamaica has positioned itself well to dominate the bunker market in the Caribs – with aspirations for LNG bunkering in the future.’
Currently, there are three bunker operators operating out of the Port of Kingston and catering to the cruise ship facilities located on the north coast. This ‘deep competition’, Jaouli noted, has served to further improve fuel quality and service standards provided.
Commenting on the Jamaican bunker market’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Jaouli said Kingston suppliers ‘wasted no time’ in implementing the necessary COVID protocols between surveyors, chief engineers and suppliers.
‘The reason I mention this is this is indicative of the volume of true and dedicated bunker professionals that Jamaica has laced into the fabric of their operations,’ she said.
Turning to the country’s sole refinery, Jaouli said the Petrojam facility was operating at about 35,000 barrels a day, producing LPG, gas, kerosene, jet fuel automotive diesel and IFO products including high sulphur fuel oil and very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO). Most ultra-low sulphur diesel, she noted, is imported.
‘Petrojam is wholly owned by the Jamaican government and recent statistics show their output around 2.1 million barrels of diesel for 2020 and about 6.7 million barrels of fuel oil,’ she said. ‘From previous years you can see that output of fuel oil increased by nearly half a million barrels and the diesel increased by about 300,000 barrels.’
Jaouli continued: ‘Back in 2014, the enforcement of the United States ECA [emission control area] zone covering certain waters that were adjacent to the coasts of Puerto Rico and United States Virgin Islands also contributed to this increase in demand for the low sulphur diesel by ships trading with US and Caribbean ports.
‘This just all goes to show the flexibility that Jamaica’s displayed in adapting with the times.’
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Source: Bunker Spot