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ENGINE: Europe & Africa Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

Northwest Europe

Availability of all grades in Rotterdam and in the wider ARA hub is good, a trader said.

Lead times of 4-6 days are advised for HSFO, while LSMGO is offered for prompter delivery with lead times of 2-4 days.

VLSFO supply in the ARA has improved over the past week. Lead times for the grade have come down from last week’s 5-7 days to 4-5 days now.

The ARA’s independently held fuel oil stocks held steady in February, according to Insights Global data.

The region imported 256,000 b/d of fuel oil in February, up from 222,000 b/d in January, according to cargo tracker Vortexa data. The ARA hub imported low-sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) and HSFO in a 45/55 ratio in February, almost similar to the 48/52 ratio in January.

The UK emerged as the ARA hub’s biggest fuel oil import source in February, accounting for 21% of the region’s total imports. Greece ranked second, accounting for 12% of the total imports. This was followed by Poland (10%), Germany and Sweden (9% each).

Despite a drop in imports, the ARA hub’s independent gasoil inventories — which include diesel and heating oil — increased by 7% in February. The ARA imported 301,000 b/d in February, down from 399,000 b/d of gasoil in January.

In the German port of Hamburg, availability is good across all three grades, a trader told ENGINE. Lead times of 3-5 days are advised for all three grades. But rough weather conditions expected from Thursday onward may disrupt bunker operations in the port until the weekend.

Off Skaw, HSFO is available only for non-prompt dates. The grade continues to show tightness, with lead times of 7-10 days advised by a trader. The availability of VLSFO and LSMGO grades is comparatively better off Skaw, with short lead times of 5-7 days recommended. Rough weather is likely to hamper bunkering off Skaw on Wednesday, a source says.


Some suppliers in Gibraltar are waiting for HSFO replenishment cargoes, a trader says. Lead times of 6-8 days are recommended for the high-sulphur grade, unchanged from last week.

In Gibraltar, the availability of VLSFO and LSMGO is currently normal, a trader says. Recommended lead times for VLSFO have come down to 3-4 days from 5-6 days witnessed last week. Lead times of 3-4 days are recommended for LSMGO, a trader said.

In the nearby Ceuta port, the bunker barge SPABunker Cuarenta has resumed operations after being in dry dock since February 9. The barge was undergoing a five-year inspection. With the barge now back in service, potential bunkering delays in the port are expected to be mitigated.

Bunkering in the Gibraltar Strait could still be challenging because of the rough weather conditions. Wind gusts of up to 28 knots and swells nearing two meters are forecast to hit the Gibraltar Strait on Thursday. The weather is forecast to remain rough throughout this week, with wind speeds forecast to intensify further and touch 41 knots on Saturday.
Rough weather could impact bunkering in the ports of Gibraltar, Algeciras and Ceuta until Sunday, a source says.

Other Mediterranean ports, such as Piraeus, Malta Offshore and Istanbul continue to witness low demand, a trader told ENGINE.

In the Greek port of Piraeus, availability is normal for all grades, with prompt delivery dates available, the trader said. Calm weather is forecast for the rest of this week and will facilitate bunkering to proceed smoothly.

Availability is normal off Malta, and prompt delivery dates are available for all grades, a trader said. Off Malta, bunkering resumed on Wednesday after bad weather impacted bunkering for a day. However, wind gusts of up to 21 knots are forecast off Malta on Friday and are expected to intensify to 43 knots on Sunday. Rough weather could possibly trigger congestion and delays.

Turkey’s Istanbul port has normal availability across all grades, with suppliers able to offer prompt delivery dates as well, a trader said. Calm weather is forecast for the rest of the week, which could allow bunkering to run smoothly.


VLSFO availability has improved in the South African ports of Durban and Richards Bay. Lead times for VLSFO have come down from over 10 days last week to 7-10 days in both ports, a trader said. LSMGO, however, continues to run dry and is extremely tight in both ports. Lead times of well over ten days are advised for LSMGO.

In Richards Bay, vessel berthing delays averaging 2-4 days in the port are likely to impact bunker operations, a source said.

In South Africa’s Cape Town, the availability of all bunker grades is good, according to shipping agent Trade Ocean. Vessels calling for bunkers are encountering delays of 24-48 hours due to port congestion caused by additional demand coming from Red Sea diversions, Trade Ocean says.

At Algoa Bay in South Africa, offshore bunkering continues to remain suspended at the anchorage, according to a source. Bunker deliveries in Algoa Bay were suspended in September last year after the South African Revenue Service (SARS) detained bunker barges over import duty disputes. Since then, only in-port deliveries have been offered by one supplier in Port Elizabeth.

Mozambique’s Nacala and Maputo ports have witnessed average demand in the past week, a source told ENGINE. In Nacala, availability has been good for all three grades. In contrast, Maputo is grappling with tightening availability for prompt dates for both VLSFO and LSMGO grades. The port is also struggling with tight bunker barge schedules, which may cause supplier delays in the port.
Source: ENGINE, By Manjula Nair, https://engine.online/news

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