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ENGINE: Americas Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

Bunker fuels could get tighter in the US as refineries take time to recover from last week’s big freeze, and there are also pockets of tightness in bunker ports further south.

Bunker terminals and suppliers in the Houston area are clearing backlogs after last week’s winter storm. Terminal operations were disrupted by freezing temperatures and blackouts.

Cargo operations were reduced in several ports. Houston’s Bayport, Barbours Cut and Turning Basin terminals were shut for much of last week. Houston’s cargo handling capacity resumed over the weekend, after electric power and water pressure came back up.

The outages have delayed bunker suppliers. One supplier brought bunker barges in from outside Houston to assist its supply operations while a loading terminal was down. Another supplier’s ex-pipe operations in the port of Galveston were hampered by the power outage, and Galveston Fairway Anchorage currently has limited fuel availability as it awaits resupply.

Refineries along the US Gulf Coast and further inland were knocked out by freeze, too, causing US crude processing to slump to 13-year lows. Bunker fuel supplies could get scarcer as it could take up to two weeks for the refineries to recover production volumes again.

The lost production volumes have yet to be visible in fuel oil inventories. US Gulf Coast residual fuel oil inventories grew by 1% to six-month highs in the week to 19 February – the most recent date they were tallied. The freeze-induced refinery shutdowns are expected to weight on fuel oil and distillate inventories in the coming weeks and could limit availability of all grades in the bunker market.

There are pockets of tight bunker fuel availability across the Americas. VLSFO and HSFO380 are tighter in New Orleans. VLSFO is also tighter for prompt delivery dates in US East Coast ports including New York, Philadelphia and Marcus Hook.

On the West Coast, barge schedules are filling up in Vancouver for the next week, while prompt stems are in better supply in Seattle.

In the Caribbean, all bunker grades continue to be tight in Freeport, HSFO380 is tight in Kingston, while VLSFO and LSMGO are both tight off Trinidad. HSFO380 is out of stock off Trinidad.

Availability is getting tighter along the west coast of South America, with HSFO380 out and VLSFO in short supply in Callao. All fuel grades are set to be limited in Manta for the next couple of weeks.

On South America’s east coast, VLSFO is getting tighter in Argentina for deliveries in the coming days.
Source: ENGINE (https://engine.online/)

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