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ENGINE: Americas Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

Gulf Coast fuel oil production has recovered to pre-hurricane levels, and supply remains limited in Panama.

US Gulf Coast refineries have ramped up fuel oil production to levels not seen since late August, before the region was battered by two damaging storms.

Gulf Coast production dropped off drastically in September, when Hurricane Ida and tropical storm Nicholas lashed across Louisiana and Texas, shutting in several refineries and curbing production in the weeks after. The region’s refineries did not produce any fuel oil for a whole week in mid-September, and Gulf Coast inventories were drawn down in the following weeks.

Gulf Coast inventories declined 8% from a high of 17.29 million bbls in mid-September, to 15.84 million bbls at the beginning of October.

The inventories have since added weigh with help from recovering production, before shedding 1% in the week to 15 October, when they were last measured by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Total US fuel oil stocks fell last week, partly as supply outstripped combined production and imports.

Unprecedented container ship congestion continues to clog up US West Coast ports. The queue to enter Los Angeles and Long Beach has averaged over 60 ships in recent weeks. The waiting time for container ships to take bunkers in the ports can extend to as much as two weeks, sources say.

Bunker availability is tight for prompt dates along the US West Coast. Supply capacity of HSFO380 is limited in Los Angeles with only two suppliers offer the grade there, and in San Francisco, where only one offers.

All fuel grades are in limited supply in Cristobal, and have been tightening in Balboa as ships transiting the Panama Canal have been looking at alternatives to Cristobal. A supplier’s earliest availability in Balboa is around eight days out. Others are unable to offer VLSFO and LSMGO on certain dates amid high demand and bunker congestion.

Resupply could be around the corner. Two cargoes carrying gasoil and diesel, and one carrying low sulphur fuel oil are due to arrive in the Cristobal from the US Gulf Coast and Balboa between 21-23 October, according to vessel tracking.

VLSFO availability is tight in two Brazilian ports. The earliest delivery date is estimated to be 26 October in Rio de Janeiro, and 31 October in Belem. Other Brazilian ports like Santos, Paranagua and Rio Grande have prompt product more readily available.

HSFO380 remains in limited supply across the South American west coast. Ports in Peru, Ecuador and Chile have all been out of product.
Source: Engine (https://engine.online/)

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