Hurricane Laura worries shut Port Houston traffic, slow bunker trading
US Gulf Coast bunker markets made muted moves as Port Houston vessel traffic was expected to halt Aug. 25 ahead of Hurricane Laura’s landfall, expected in the region as soon as late Aug. 26.
As of 4 pm ET, Houston was set at US Coast Guard Port Condition X-ray in preparation for gale force winds within 48 hours. The West Gulf Maritime Association anticipated Port Condition Yankee would likely be set around 9 pm ET.
The West Gulf Maritime Association also reported that the Houston Pilot’s association was to shut down all vessel movements by 10 pm Aug. 25. The addition of halting outbound traffic followed a closure of the Houston Ship Channel to inbound traffic at 5 pm ET on Aug. 24.
In spot bunker markets, trading activity remained quiet ahead of the storm. One source said that market participants were holding out to “see with what happens with Laura to see if we have to put any fires out,” figuratively referring to potential issues that might arise upon its landfall.
Houston 0.5%S on the retail spot market followed gains seen in the USGC bulk 0.5%s marine fuel assessment, which rose $4.25/mt to $328.75/mt. Houston stepped $5/mt higher to be assessed at $305/mt on an ex-wharf basis.
In the shipping sector, Americas Clean tankers saw freight fall off ahead of the storm’s arrival as refineries closed and charterers held off cargoes in late August and early September laycans. Short-haul freight for tankers loading on the USGC fell 10% day on day on the 38,000 mt USGC-East Coast Mexico, which fell to lump sum $440,000.