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ENGINE: Global Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

20 Dec 2021

The following update regarding global bunker fuel availability has been provided by online marine fuels procurement platform ENGINE for publication on Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times:

16 December, 2021

  • Weather suspensions in Gibraltar Strait
  • ARA gasoil stocks slump to fresh seven-year lows
  • Prompt supply under persistent pressure in Singapore and Fujairah
  • Fog delays vessel traffic in Houston

Inbound vessel traffic and all bunkering in Gibraltar was suspended on Thursday amid gale and swells pushing 2 metres today, port agent MH Bland said. The bunker queue grew to 16 vessels in the port.

Weather conditions are forecast to improve some on Friday, before worsening some again on Saturday and into the early hours on Sunday. Considerable delays are expected once operations are back up and running again.

Bunkering has also been suspended at Algeciras’ B, C and D anchorages, adding pressure on the port’s remaining A anchorage. At least 12 vessels were waiting for space to enter this anchorage for bunkering on Thursday.

Deliveries by barge has been suspended in Ceuta. Ex-pipe bunkering is still possible.

Bunker suppliers in the ARA continue to have readily available stems to offer across fuel grades, with lead times of 1-3 days generally advised. That is considerably shorter than the other major bunkering hubs of Singapore and Fujairah.

Independently held stockpiles of fuel oil and gasoil in the ARA hub were heavily drawn in the past week, Insights Global data shows. Fuel oil stocks, which include high and low sulphur grades, fell to five-week lows. Gasoil stocks, including diesel and heating oil, have been drawn down to their lowest point in over seven years amid strong heating oil demand in Europe.

Bunker availability remains tight in Singapore amid ongoing terminal congestion, pushing the earliest delivery dates for VLSFO and HSFO380 stems to 9-12 days ahead. LSMGO is more readily available at 5-7 days out.

Singapore’s residual fuel oil inventories have grown to three-week highs despite a drop in net imports in the past week. Stockpiles of middle distillates – including gasoil – have recovered from three-year lows, according to Enterprise Singapore data.

In Fujairah, suggested lead times for VLSFO and LSMGO are up slightly to six days out from five days earlier. HSFO380 lead times are nine days out.

Fujairah’s heavy distillate and residual fuel oil inventories fell to six-week lows of 8.81 million bbls this week, according to data from Fujairah Oil Industry Zone and S&P Global Platts. Strong recent bunker sales of both low and high sulphur fuel oil grades have contributed to draw down stocks.

Vessel traffic through Houston Ship Channel has been halted intermittently by fog and reduced visibility this week. The channel reopened for all traffic in the morning local time on Thursday, and there were 28 vessels waiting inbound, 21 outbound and three vessels pending, port agent Norton Lilly says.

The channel is a key waterway to reach bunkering ports in the area, which include Houston, Galveston, Texas City and Baytown. Certain vessels delayed by the channel closures have had to cancel stems as they have been on tight berthing schedules, sources say.

Prompt bunker availability is under pressure in the Houston area and several other ports in the Americas. Supply is particularly tight in US West Coast ports like Los Angeles, and in Panama. A supplier’s earliest delivery dates in Balboa is around eight days out and several others have limited prompt availability.


Photo credit: ENGINE
Published: 20 December, 2021

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