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ENGINE: Europe & Africa Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

09 Mar 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:

8 March, 2023

  • Rotterdam refinery maintenance could curb fuel supply
  • HSFO still unavailable with a supplier in Las Palmas
  • Supply normal in South Africa, rough weather forecast

Northwest Europe

Supply of LSMGO is said to have improved from last week in the ARA hub, but securing prompt deliveries can still be difficult there, sources say. Lead times of 2-3 days are advised for LSMGO deliveries in the region, which is longer than usual.

Prompt supply of VLSFO is also said to be tight in the region because of barge loading delays at terminals that has had a knock-on impact on fuel availability and bunker deliveries, sources say. At least three suppliers can typically accommodate prompt stems in the spot market, a source says, while several others with fewer barges have felt more pressure on their barge delivery capacity and had more limited availability.

Buyers will not necessarily incur prompt price premiums in the ARA, but there are not as many discounts in the market as before, so prompt fixing levels are generally closer to initial offer levels.

Meanwhile, the ARA’s independently held fuel oil and gasoil stocks have both averaged 2% higher at the beginning of this month than in February, according to Insights Global data. Stocks of both fuel groups have risen above their five-year average position for the time of the year.

This comes as ARA importers sourced significant volumes of gasoil and diesel from Saudi Arabia, China and India to replace the Russian product in February, and from Singapore, Qatar and Turkey so far in March. They have also sourced most of their fuel oil imports from the UK, Denmark, Greece, Poland and Baltic countries in recent weeks, going by Vortexa cargo tracking data.

However, availability of LSMGO is expected to tighten in the ARA this month as Shell’s Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rotterdam refinery will go into a partial maintenance. According Wood Mackenzie, one of the refinery’s crude distillation units of 200,000 b/d will go offline for maintenance between 10 March and 19 April. The refinery has two crude distillation units with a total nameplate capacity of around 400,000 b/d capacity.

With the refinery operating at a reduced capacity, this could mean less fuel oil and gasoil production. A source says that LSMGO could come under pressure from less supply, and expects more upward price pressure on delivered bunkers.

In Germany’s Hamburg, supply of VLSFO and LSMGO is said to be normal, requiring lead times of around 5-6 days, a source says. Delivery prospects for HSFO are subject to enquiries, the source adds.

VLSFO and LSMGO availability is normal-to-tight for delivery off Skaw, but HSFO supply is said to be tight there, a source says. Lead times of up to seven days are advised for VLSFO and LSMGO deliveries there.

Both VLSFO and LSMGO grades have been in steady availability in Portugal’s Lisbon and Sines, a source says, and the impact from the Russian phase-out has been minimal.


Bunker fuels availability is said to be tight prompt in Gibraltar. Prompt supply of HSFO is particularly tight there, a source says. Lead times of up to six days are advised for deliveries in Gibraltar across all fuel grades.

A supplier in Las Palmas is “dry” on HSFO and the port’s benchmark is still at large premiums over Gibraltar Strait ports. The supplier is unable to estimate an earliest delivery date for HSFO in Las Palmas at this point. Another supplier has stocks of the grade to offer, and a third is mostly supplying on a term contract basis, several sources say.

There are some delays at a terminal in Ceuta, with two vessels waiting to berth, according to Jose Salama & Co. Another 11 vessels are scheduled to arrive for bunkers across the port’s berths and anchorages today. There is a minimal backlog in Gibraltar, with one vessel waiting for a delivery barge to become ready, MH Bland says.

Bunker fuel availability is currently normal off Malta with recommended lead times of about five days, a source says.

VLSFO is tight in the Greek port of Piraeus, while availability of HSFO and LSMGO is said to be normal there.


Supply of VLSFO and LSMGO is said to be normal in Durban and Algoa Bay, requiring lead times of up to seven days, sources say.

Algoa Bay has gale and heavy swells forecast on Wednesday and again on Saturday. This could hold back some of the 21 vessels scheduled to arrive for bunkers this week. Bunkering was in progress on Wednesday morning, with two vessels receiving fuel and another two in line, Rennies Ships Agency says.

Bunker operations are also running smoothly in Mozambique’s Nacala and Maputo ports, where a total of seven vessels are due to arrive for bunkers this week – the same as last week.

By Shilpa Sharma


Photo credit and source: ENGINE
Published: 8 March, 2023

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