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ENGINE: Europe & Africa Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

Bunker fuel oil supply has been tight in the ARA region in recent days, pushing recommended lead times to 3-6 days for VLSFO. A recent period of high demand put pressure on available volumes, sources say. LSMGO supply is relatively better and more readily available for prompt deliveries.

ARA’s independently held fuel oil stocks regained some weight last week and moved above their five-year average position, according to Insights Global data. The hub’s gasoil stocks, meanwhile, slumped to eight-year lows.

Imminent maintenance work at the 404,000 b/d Pernis refinery in Rotterdam – Europe’s biggest – is scheduled to last for five months. It is the refinery’s biggest turnaround in about two years and could curb gasoil and fuel oil resupply to the regional bunker market.

Bunker demand has been said to be average in Hamburg, while the port’s availability of VLSFO continues to be good and requires 3-5 days of lead time, sources say. The German port’s VLSFO was at marked discounts to ARA ports last week, but flipped back to premiums this week.

Several days of gale and choppy seas off Skaw has disrupted bunkering intermittently and put pressure on bunker delivery schedules. A lull of calmer weather is forecast on Friday and Monday and could allow for bunkering to go ahead more smoothly.

Weather disruptions have halted most anchorage bunkering in the Gibraltar Strait and created considerable vessel backlogs.

All port operations and inbound vessel traffic have been suspended since Tuesday in Gibraltar. Congestion has mounted to 17 vessels waiting to bunker on Wednesday, according to port agent MH Bland. Ex-pipe bunkering remains a possibility, but supply capacity at berth is more limited than at anchorage.

Algeciras’ outer anchorages are closed to bunkering, adding pressure on the port’s inner anchorage. 15 vessels were waiting to bunker on Wednesday, MH Bland says.

Anchorage bunkering was also suspended in Ceuta on Wednesday, while supply through ex-pipe or barges coming alongside receiving vessels at berth was still possible.

Calmer weather conditions are forecast from Saturday, but could only last for 3-4 days before another bout of strong winds and swells is forecast on Wednesday next week.
Source: ENGINE (https://engine.online/)

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