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ENGINE: Europe & Africa Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

24 Mar 2022

The following article regarding Europe and Africa bunker fuel availability has been provided by online marine fuel procurement platform ENGINE for post on Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times:

  • ExxonMobil’s Antwerp refinery undergoes maintenance
  • Gibraltar and Algeciras suffer massive congestion
  • Swedish dockworkers to block Russian vessels and cargo

VLSFO and LSMGO availability has improved somewhat in the ARA and Gibraltar Strait bunkering hubs this week, while HSFO remains relatively tighter, sources say. Recommended lead times for VLSFO and LSMGO is 4-6 days, and HSFO is around 7-10 days.

ExxonMobil announced last week that its Antwerp refinery is undergoing maintenance works. The company has not officially confirmed the duration of the maintenance, but traders expect it could take a month before the works are complete and production has normalised again. The refinery has a total nameplate capacity of 320,000 b/d, and produces fuel oil and gasoil for the local bunker market.

The refinery enters a turnaround at a time when Shell’s Pernis refinery in Rotterdam is already undergoing a major maintenance, scheduled to last until June.

TotalEnergies announced this week it will no longer enter into or renew contracts to purchase Russian oil and oil products, following several other European oil and gas firms in phasing out Russian oil imports.

Shell, BP, Equinor, Galp, Repsol, ENI and others have made similar announcements since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started a month ago, moves that could impact production at their refineries.

ARA’s independent gasoil stocks fell by 2% last week and remain close to recent multi-year lows, while fuel oil stocks held roughly steady below their five-year average, Insights Global data showed.

Availability of HSFO and LSMGO is tight in Hamburg, while VLSFO is normal. Demand is said to have been slow in recent days. Recommended lead times are around 3-5 days for VLSFO.

In nearby Bremerhaven, HSFO and VLSFO availability is better compared to LSMGO, which requires 4-5 days of lead time.

HSFO and LSMGO is “super tight” across Italian most ports. The tightness is largely due to the slowdown of Russian imports, which has also affected production at local refinery, sources say. VLSFO availability is fine in Genoa and prompt deliveries are possible.

Bunker fuel availability in Piraeus is normal but deliveries could be affected due to barge availability. “Suppliers are able to find one way or other to deliver the fuel, however prompt deliveries are difficult,” sources say. Recommended lead times are around 5-7 days.

The Swedish Dockworkers Union has notified Ports of Sweden that its workers will not handle any vessels or cargo from or to Russia in any Swedish ports from 28 March.

Around 85% of Sweden’s fuel oil imports come from Russia. Together with fuel oil imports from Norway (11%) and Finland (4%), the Russian fuel oil has supplemented domestic Swedish refinery production of fuel oil as a by-product, or as processed VLSFO.

Bunker operations outside Gibraltar’s outer port limits were suspended on Wednesday morning due to high swells and strong wind.

Similarly, bunkering at Algeciras’ outer C and D anchorages are likely to be affected due to strong winds and swell, says MH Bland. Bunker operations are possible at outer anchorages but are subject to decisions from the harbour master and barge operators.

The recent deteriorating weather conditions in Gibraltar and Algeciras will possibly add to existing congestion. A total of 35 vessels were waiting to bunker in the two ports on Wednesday.

Port all operations are also suspended in the bay of Ceuta, MH Bland says. Two vessels were waiting to bunker at anchorage in Ceuta on Wednesday, with another three vessels expected to arrive throughout the day, according to shipping agent Jose Salama & Cia.

Maersk announced on Tuesday it has stopped accepting any laden export containers in Ireland’s Dublin port- Marine Terminal Ltd (MTL), as the terminal is over-congested.


Photo credit and source: ENGINE
Published: 24 March, 2022

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