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Argus Media: Fujairah struggles to attract Qatari bunker demand

12 May 2021

Elshan Aliyev of global energy and commodity price reporting agency Argus Media on Tuesday (11 May) published a report offering insight into the Middle East bunkering market:

The resolution of the diplomatic dispute between the UAE and Qatar earlier this year has so far not resulted in a rise in marine fuels demand in Fujairah, the Middle East’s main bunkering centre in the United Arab Emirates.

Market participants expected demand from the Qatari LNG fleet to lift bunker sales by around 2mn t/yr following the UAE’s decision in early January to end the sea, land and air blockades on Qatar and. State-controlled Qatargas vessels were major buyers of bunker fuels from Fujairah, and sales at the port fell to 8mn-9mn t/yr in 2018-19 from an estimated 12mn-14mn t/yr in previous years, as a result of the blockade.

“We expected a certain degree of a boost to sales after the blockade was lifted, but so far it has not happened,” a Fujairah trader said.

The average volume of bunker fuels, including very low-sulphur (VLSFO), high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) and marine gasoil (MGO) involved in deals at Fujairah reported to Argus reached around 180,000 t/month so far this year, compared with 175,000t in 2020. Deals reported to Argus capture around 25-30pc of total sales in Fujairah.

Bunker demand from Qatari vessels has not increased by as much as expected because the blockade prompted Qatar to set up and improve its own bunker facilities, market participants said. The country secured imports of marine fuels catering for most of Qatar’s LNG fleet and has signed term deals with other major ports, such as Singapore.

“Qatargas owns 75 vessels and lifts roughly 75,000-85,000 t/month from Ras Laffan, which is half of its total demand. There rest is sourced from Singapore or the Mediterranean”, a Fujairah supplier said.

Qatar increased imports of bunker grade low-sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) more than four-fold year on year in 2020, to meet the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) marine-fuel sulphur cap of 0.5pc.

State-owned QP bought 632,000t of LSFO last year, according to oil analytics firm Vortexa, up from 118,000t discharged at Ras Laffan and other Qatari ports in 2019. LSFO imports were at 168,000t in January-April, with more than half of cargoes sourced from Singapore.


Photo credit and source: Argus Media
Published: 12 May, 2021

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