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ENGINE: Europe & Africa Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

HSFO supplies are tightening in several Mediterranean and South African ports this week, while rough weather has disrupted bunkering in the Gibraltar Strait again.

ARA’s independent fuel oil stocks were slightly lower last week, but are still far above their five-year average. The stocks remain high despite a recent pull for cargoes from the east. Fuel oil has been particularly tight in Singapore in recent months and viable arbitrage economics have attracted Russian and European fuel oil producers to export increasing volumes for March delivery to Singapore.

Lead times for HSFO380 stems are still at around three days in ARA and Gibraltar, compared to six days in the Canary Islands, where HSFO380 has tightened further. One supplier in the Canary Islands is out of product and not expected to resupply until April. Others have limited volumes for prompt deliveries. Malta continues to have limited volumes of the high sulphur grade, with only one supplier offering it.

HSFO180 remains tight in Durban, and especially in Port Elizabeth. VLSFO and MGO stems are more readily available in South African ports. Port Elizabeth is expected to see strong winds and swell on Sunday and Monday, potentially disrupting bunkering then.

The weather could also complicate bunkering off Skaw, where strong winds high swell from the southwest is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. The winds will pick up to gale strength from Friday.

Port operations were suspended in Gibraltar and Ceuta on Wednesday morning and several bunker suppliers are delayed, as strong winds from the east have led to heavy swell.

Vessels are no longer called by pilots for anchorage in the port of Gibraltar, while vessels already at anchorage can stay, according to port agency MH Bland. Bunker barges are unable to come up alongside vessels amid 3-4-metre high swell, and five vessels are currently waiting to bunker in the port.

High swell has also shut Algeciras’ anchorage D. Bunkering is still being performed at Algeciras’ inner anchorage, but the area is getting congested with vessels.

All of Ceuta’s port operations have been suspended by the strong winds and swell, which are forecast to calm some from Wednesday evening, and come down further on Thursday, before picking up again on Friday.

Las Palmas is forecast with swell from the northwest and waves of over 1.5 metres from Wednesday evening to Sunday morning. High swell can disrupt bunkering at outer anchorage in the port, and congest the inner anchorage by shifting more bunker operations there.

Shipowners have been looking at alternative ports to bunker in if delays mount in the Gibraltar Strait ports. Malta and Italy’s Sarroch and Cagliari have calm weather in store for at least another week, and competitive prices compared to Gibraltar’s.
Source: ENGINE (https://engine.online/)

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