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AMERICAS BUNKERS: Key market indicators Dec. 28-Jan. 1

Retail marine fuel spot markets entered the week of Dec. 28-Jan. 1 following a week of bullish demand, but liquidity may slow down heading into the end of the year as demand remains weak.


After a shortened week of intense activity, the bunker market in Panama might continue seeing some liquidity up until Dec. 29, market sources said, but other Latin American ports could slow down in an environment of low demand.

Marine fuel 0.5%S in Balboa rose $2 (0.5%) to $402/mt from Dec. 21 to Dec. 24, while marine gasoil in the same port declined $1 (0.2%) to $464/mt. Several deals were heard done last week, although within a tight price range. Delivery for those stems was scheduled for the end of December and the beginning of January.

“It is always this way, prior to the long Christmas holidays,” a market source said of the heightened activity.

Another described it as a “madness of ships” as the holiday period approached. “I don’t think we will see more [deals] for December delivery,” that source said.

The strongest performance the week ended Dec. 25 was posted in Valparaiso. Marine fuel 0.5%S rose $15 (3.2%) in the Chilean port to $489/mt, while marine gasoil rose $12 (2.2%) to $570/mt. Bunker values in Valparaiso closely follow refinery pricing.

In Argentina, a stoppage initiated on Dec. 9 by oilseed workers and grain inspectors demanding higher salaries has led to stranded ships waiting to load from wheat to soy. Amid the stoppage, the 0.5%S has edged lower in the port of Buenos Aires, with pricing oscillating within a $10 price range. From Dec. 21 to Dec. 24, the fuel in Buenos Aires declined $8 (1.9%) to $415/mt. Marine gasoil, which represents a very small portion of Argentina’s bunker market, according to suppliers, rose $2 (0.4%) to $516/mt.

Demand is at a “standstill,” a South American source said. “Until the stoppage is lifted, things will continue this way.”

Another port showing a firm advance was Guayaquil, where imports of 0.5%S have resumed. The fuel in the Ecuadorean port rose $10 (2.2%) last week to $458/mt. On the opposite side, 0.5%S in Santos declined $7 (1.8%) to $386/mt.


On the US Gulf Coast, the port of New Orleans saw strong bunker activity last week, with IMO-compliant fuels narrowing their premium over those traded in Houston, the biggest hub in the region.

Spot pricing for 0.5%S in New Orleans rose $3 to be assessed at $385/mt ex-wharf, only $1 above the $384/mt value in the Texan port, which climbed $7.

Marine gasoil in the Louisiana port rose $10 to $463/mt. In Houston, it also advanced $10 to $458/mt, creating a spread of $5 between the two ports.

However, pricing difference for high sulfur IFO 380 remained wider, with a $10 premium of New Orleans over Houston. The high sulfur bunker declined $1 in both ports to $290/mt in Houston and $300/mt in New Orleans.


In New York and Philadelphia, retail 0.5%S increased by 1.0% in both ports. MGO climbed 0.7% in both New York and Philadelphia. Philadelphia maintained a $5 premium for 0.5%S and $2 premium for MGO.

IFO 380 remained flat in Charleston, as Charleston opened and closed the week at $393/mt ex-wharf. Savannah IFO 380 also did not move, with the port beginning and ending the week at $380/mt ex-wharf. MGO remained at parity throughout the week, with both ports gaining 1.3% from Dec. 21 to Dec. 24.

After seeing significant price decreases to start the week, Vancouver tracked upward movements for energy futures on Dec. 23 and for Singapore bunker markets on Dec. 24. Retail 0.5%S strengthened by 0.7% in Vancouver, while MGO in the port gained 0.6%.

Demand in Vancouver was heard to be weak throughout the week, despite the significant declines in pricing at the start of the week. A source said demand should be increasing this week with vessels arriving the first week of 2021.

Seattle remained at a $5 premium to Vancouver during the week, while also climbing 0.7% for 0.5%S and 0.6% for MGO.

In Los Angeles, MGO declined by 1.2%.
Source: Platts

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