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AMERICAS BUNKERS: Key market indicators March 29-April 2

Spot bunker markets throughout the Americas saw pricing move mostly lower the week of March 22-26, with pressure coming from the global crude complex. Market participants enter this week with an eye on oil and diesel futures amid ongoing logistical issues at the Suez Canal.

Latin America

Spot bunker prices in Latin America are poised to be influenced by the Holy Week holidays following a volatile period that saw sudden, sharp value movements led by global oil pricing.

Through the week ended March 27, steep increases were followed by equally strong falls and then rising prices again. Prompt-month ICE Brent declined less than 1% from March 22 to March 26, when it was valued at $64.57/b, while marine fuel 0.5%S fell 1.3% at $464.25/mt.

In Panama, the 0.5%S declined $6, or 1.2%, at $490/mt ex-wharf at the port of Balboa. In Brazil, the fuel fell $7, or 1.4%, at $483/mt delivered at the port of Santos.

The concern of a spillover from the blockage of the Suez Canal has lent some support to prices in Balboa, according to sources.

“With that ship stuck, I expect to see some impact in the coming weeks, depending on how long it takes to get it out,” a market source said on March 26. Another one said participants might try to make sure they have enough fuel supplies.

The Ever Given ran aground on March 23, blocking the passage through the Suez Canal, and forcing ships to remain in queue or go through the Cape of Good Hope. Even when the ship was partially refloated on March 29, clearing the transit jam could take weeks.

Panama saw strong demand in the week ended March 27. “Much better than the previous one, but not an abrupt change,” a bunker source said.

In Argentina, demand has been strong due to the harvest export season amid a full supply, according to market sources. The 0.5%S fell $7, or 1.4%, in Buenos Aires to $508/mt in the week ended March 27.

Some Latin American ports registered increases. In Cartagena, where sources said global prices had little influence in an environment of low demand, the 0.5%S was almost at a standstill, rising $3 at $532/mt. A similar behavior was seen in Valparaiso, where the fuel rose $1 at $622/mt.

Regarding the Holy Week holidays, bunker sources said there might be some slowdown in market activity but demand might still hold.

North America

In North America, spot 0.5%S Marine Fuel bunkers fell $4, or 0.8%, on the week in Houston to close at $475/mt ex-wharf while MGO came off $6, or 1.1%, to end the week at $560/mt ex-wharf Houston.

The New Orleans spot market tracked Houston, with 0.5%S pricing dipping $14, or 2.8%, at $490/mt ex-wharf while MGO spot pricing fell just $1 at $575/mt ex-wharf.

Resupply availability continued to be talked tight in both Houston and New Orleans, sources said.

“Few inquiries but not a lot in the market,” a local source said of Houston. “I am tight through April first so could not quote on much.”

Another source echoed that sentiment while also citing bulk-side costs increasing as a source of support.

“We are pretty booked up the next week in Houston,” the source said. “Resupply availabilities are still okay there, but getting tighter and so resupply costs have gone up a bit this week.”

In New York, spot pricing inched up $2 at $498/mt ex-wharf for 0.5%S and $3 at $547/mt ex-wharf on MGO.

The West Coast saw spot 0.5%S pricing dip $9, or 1.8%, at $496/mt ex-wharf Vancouver and MGO value fall $10, or 1.7%, at $596/mt ex-wharf.
Source: Platts

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