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Cape Town refinery comeback could boost VLSFO supply – sources

The long-awaited restart of Astron Energy’s refinery in Cape Town could boost availability of VLSFO in the South African ports of Cape Town and Richards Bay, sources say.

Astron Energy’s nameplate 100,000 b/d refinery just north of Cape Town has recently resumed operations after being offline for nearly three years, Reuters reports. The refinery was shut down in 2020 after a massive fire.

The refinery used to produce VLSFO and other fuels for bunker supply in Cape Town and Richards Bay, a source says. Now that is back online, availability of the grade is set to improve in both ports, which could render them less reliant on fuel oil imports from places like Fujairah, the source adds.

According to cargo tracker Vortexa, South Africa has imported most of its fuel oil from Fujairah in recent months. The country has imported 10,000 b/d of fuel oil so far this month, sharply down from the 18,400 b/d of fuel oil imported in April. The majority of these imports have arrived from Fujairah.

Some argue that Astron Energy’s refinery may take more time to ramp output up to its capacity.

Securing VLSFO and LSMGO grades for prompt dates in Cape Town and Richards Bay’s bunker markets remains difficult, sources say. A lead time of more than seven days is generally recommended.

Meanwhile, availability is said to be better for bunker deliveries in the nearby Mozambican ports of Maputo and Nacala. A supplier says it has steady supply levels.

Astron Energy’s refinery is owned by global commodity trader Glencore.
Source: ENGINE

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