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ENGINE: Europe & Africa Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

05 Jan 2023

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:

4 January 2023

  • ARA fuel oil and gasoil stocks drawn massively in 2022
  • Bad weather could disrupt bunkering in Las Palmas
  • Fuel availability normal in South African ports


Northwest Europe

Availability of VLSFO and LSMGO grades is normal in the ARA hub, with recommended lead times of around 3-4 days. But securing prompt delivery of HSFO can be difficult there, requiring a longer period of around 5-6 days.

The region’s fuel oil stocks averaged 17% lower last year than across 2021, according to Insights Global data.

Dwindling Russian fuel oil inflows along with steady fuel oil exports could be reasons behind the significant draw of ARA’s fuel oil inventories in 2022.

According to cargo tracker Vortexa, no Russian fuel oil cargoes arrived in the region between August and November. However, fuel oil imports from Russia resumed in December, bringing Russia back to become the fourth-largest fuel oil import source for the ARA.

Russia used to be the absolute top fuel oil import source for the region before it invaded Ukraine, and European countries and companies responded with sanctions and self-sanctions on Russian oil. By 5 February, all imports of Russian fuel oil, gasoil and other oil products must be phased out in the ARA and other EU ports.

The ARA’s gasoil stocks averaged 26% lower last year than in 2021.

Bunker fuel availability is currently normal in northern German ports, but could come under pressure in the future because the Schwedt refinery halted all crude oil imports from Russia last Sunday. 

Fuel oil supplied as bunker fuels in Hamburg and other northern German ports is mostly produced at Schwedt. Crude oil has historically piped into the refinery from Russia via the Druzhba pipeline. The refinery has already replaced Russian crude oil with oil from Poland and other sources in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the availability of VLSFO and LSMGO is said to be normal in Hamburg. Lead times of 3-5 days are advised for VLSFO and LSMGO deliveries there, while HSFO supply remains subject to enquiry. 

Supply of VLSFO and LSMGO is said to be normal-to-tight for prompt dates off Skaw, requiring lead times of around seven days, a source says. Availability of HSFO is tight in the region and may require longer lead times, the source adds.



Bunker fuels supply is said to be normal in most ports in the Gibraltar Strait, while securing prompt delivery of VLSFO and HSFO can be slightly difficult in Malta this week, a source says.

There have been few enquiries for prompt bunker deliveries in the Gibraltar Strait this week, the source says.

Slight congestion was reported in Gibraltar on Wednesday. One supplier experienced 12 hours of delay, according to port agent MH Bland. All three suppliers in Algeciras experienced 6-12 hours of delays on Wednesday.

No congestion has been reported in Malta and Ceuta this week. Eight vessels were scheduled to arrive in Ceuta on Wednesday, according to shipping agent Jose Salama & Co.

12 vessels were due to arrive for bunkers in and off Malta on Wednesday, according to Seatrans Shipping agency.

A forecast of bad weather conditions this week has raised concerns over smooth bunker deliveries at Las Palmas’ outer anchorage, MH Bland says. Strong swells of 1.5 meter hit Las Palmas on Wednesday, but suppliers were still delivering as usual there, a source says. The weather is forecast to remain bad until Saturday, which could complicate deliveries.



Bunker operations were in progress in Algoa Bay on Wednesday. But strong winds and heavy swells could hamper bunker deliveries there this week, a source says. Strong winds of 25 knots and swells ranging up to 2.5 meter hit the region on Wednesday. Swells of 2.6 meter are forecast to hit Algoa Bay on Thursday.

Three vessels were waiting to receive bunkers at anchorage in Algoa Bay on Wednesday and 12 more vessels are scheduled to arrive this week, according to Rennies Ships Agency.

Meanwhile, bunker fuel availability is said to be normal in Algoa Bay and in Durban. Lead times of seven days are recommended for deliveries in both locations, a source says.

Bunkering is going ahead as normal in Mozambique’s Nacala and Maputo ports. A total of six vessels are scheduled to arrive to bunker across the two ports this week, down from seven last week.

By Shilpa Sharma


Photo credit and source: ENGINE
Published: 5 January, 2022

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