ENGINE: Prospects for bunker fuel availability in Europe and Africa

Pre-holiday refueling schedules are under pressure from high demand, and persistent weather disruptions have delayed refueling by days in Las Palmas and Malta.

Supply could tighten in the ARA region as buyers increasingly seek to reserve stems in the second half of December, sources say. Bunker schedules before the holidays are starting to fill up.

The bunker supply of LSMGO and VLSFO had recently tightened due to high bunker demand and a lack of access to light cycle oil for the VLSFO mix.

However, the recent product crunch has shown signs of easing in recent days, and vendors can now generally adapt to fast rods. Rather, dates a little further away are under the pressure of strong demand.

A large build-up of residual fuel oil stored independently in the ARA caused inventories to surge to their highest level in six months last week, according to data from Insights Global. The majority of fuel oil shipments arriving in the ARA during the week came from Russia, according to the cargo tracker, but also from Sweden, Bulgaria, France, Germany, the UK and Poland.

The bunkering center’s diesel stocks, which include diesel and heating oil, have hovered around their lowest level in seven years as demand for heating remains strong during colder temperatures in the northern hemisphere.

The ports of the Strait of Gibraltar have readily available supplies of all qualities for specific dates. HSFO380 is tight in Las Palmas and Tenerife, where relatively fewer vendors offer the grade, while VLSFO and LSMGO grades are more available.

Bunker deliveries to Las Palmas have been delayed for at least two days after a long period of poor weather conditions, port agent MH Bland said on Wednesday. Bunkering of outer moorings was suspended for days, putting pressure on the port’s more limited supply capacity at berths and in its inner mooring, where only one vessel can be provisioned at a time. High and moderate swells are also forecast in Las Palmas for the coming week.

Meanwhile, Tenerife’s external anchorage, the Zona II, became operational again on Wednesday after days of weather disturbances. No delay is to be expected.

Bunkering resumed in bunkering zone 4 off the south-eastern coast of Malta on Wednesday, as winds and swells hit the country’s islands from the west. Malta’s other five bunkering zones were still not operational, port officer MH Bland said. Weather conditions are expected to worsen from Wednesday afternoon, with periods of gales hitting Malta in several directions through Sunday.

LSMGO’s supply has tightened in the Russian Baltic Sea ports of Ust-Luga and St. Petersburg and in the ports of Novorossiysk and Tuapse on the Black Sea, while their fuel qualities are abundant and at the lowest prices in Europe, according to sources. The ongoing maintenance of a refinery in Tuapse, however, could hamper the resupply of Black Sea ports, as it is expected to last until early next year.

The supply of VLSFO and LSMGO remains stable in South African ports, sources say, while HSFO180 may be tight for early dates while still being possible to find.
Source: ENGINE (https://engine.online/)


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