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ENGINE: Americas Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

21 Feb 2022

The following article regarding regional bunker fuel availability outlook for the Americas has been provided by online marine fuels procurement platform ENGINE for publication on Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times:

17 February, 2022

  • Bunker fuel oil supply continues to be tight across North America
  • US fuel oil production hit lowest levels since October 2020
  • Supply remains tight in Panama

Prompt bunker fuel oil supply continues to be tight across North America and has also tightened considerably in various Caribbean and South American countries.

Bunker locations around Houston and off the US Gulf Coast, New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Panama all have tight availability, while suppliers in Jamaica’s Kingston and Argentina’s Buenos Aires and Zona Comun are all but sold out of VLSFO and LSMGO for the rest of the month.

Inventories of US residual fuel oil fell below 26 million bbls again after significant draws in the Gulf Coast and West Coast regions in the week to 11 February, according to the EIA.

Domestic fuel oil production levels dropped to their lowest levels since October 2020. The country’s total refinery utilisation has been declining from near 90% through most of December, to 85.3% in the latest week.

Imports rose to two-month highs in the week, and US importer have taken 70% more fuel oil so far in February than in January. But even this boost in imports has not made up for the production shortfall.

Fuel oil volumes supplied out of storage to blenders, bulk terminals, refineries and power plants rose sharply on the week. 

Demand has been particularly high from power plants and from the bunker market recently. Bunker suppliers in several key bunker ports have been tight for product and looking for replenishment.

Supply remains tight in Panama. Certain suppliers require about a week of lead time for VLSFO, others more.

Jamaica’s Kingston has also seen VLSFO and LSMGO supply tightening. Suppliers are unable to commit to deliveries of the grades until the end of the month at the earliest, one citing high congestion.

The port relies of product produced at the local Petrojam refinery and occasional cargo imports. According to cargo tracking, Kingston last received a low sulphur fuel oil cargo in late January.

There is next to no availability of VLSFO and LSMGO at Argentina’s Zona Comun anchorage for the rest of the month. Most suppliers quote early March as their earliest delivery date, one attributing the supply squeeze to an unspecified local refinery turnaround.

Several low sulphur fuel oil cargos are due to arrive in the Buenos Aires area in the first two weeks of March and should help ease the supply squeeze then.

Zona Comun’s VLSFO price has surged to much wider premiums over Brazilian ports this week.


Photo credit: ENGINE
Published: 21 February, 2022

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