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IBIA on navigating new waters: Africa’s role in global bunkering

Repercussions of geopolitical and strategic shifts are already evident in the changing bunkering volumes across various African ports including Port Louis and Walvis Bay, says Tahra Sergeant of IBIA.




Tahra Sergeant, International Bunker Industry Association Board’s (IBIA) Regional Manager of Africa and Global Head Events

Tahra Sergeant, International Bunker Industry Association Board’s (IBIA) Regional Manager of Africa and Global Head Events, on Friday (8 March) released an article after spending a week in Cape Town with the regional and global bunker industry, taking a look at the opportunities and pitfalls of bunkering in Africa: 

Amidst maritime tensions and regional disruptions, Africa’s eastern coast is emerging as a new hub for bunkering services, signalling a pivotal shift in the marine fuels sector.

In recent times, the maritime industry has found itself navigating through a sea of challenges and changes, particularly with the persistent tensions in the Red Sea region. These geopolitical ripples have led to a strategic re-routing of vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, spotlighting the potential of African nations such as Djibouti, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique to significantly bolster their bunkering services. This development is not merely a response to circumstances but a testament to the continent’s burgeoning capability to redefine its position within the global maritime economy.

Ambassador Nancy Karigithu, Kenya’s Special Envoy and Presidential Advisor for Maritime and Blue Economy, has been at the forefront of advocating for this transformative vision. Speaking at Maritime Week Africa, she emphasised the need for substantial investment in maritime infrastructure, including the development of storage tanks, pipelines, and terminals. Such enhancements are crucial for accommodating the increasing demand for bunkering services, thereby attracting international investors and stimulating economic growth along Africa’s east coast.

Ambassador Karigithu underscored the importance of collaborative ventures in this evolving landscape. She proposed that African bunkering companies forge partnerships with international shipping and fuel suppliers to leverage collective expertise, technology, and market access. This collaborative approach is pivotal for driving growth in Africa’s marine fuels sector, making it more resilient and adaptable to the dynamic demands of global shipping.

The call for bolstered maritime security was another critical point raised by Ambassador Karigithu, especially in the wake of recent shipping attacks in the Red Sea. Enhancing security measures is essential for building confidence among shipping operators, which, in turn, would lead to an increased utilisation of African bunkering services. A secure and reliable maritime environment is foundational for the sustainable growth of the bunkering sector.

The repercussions of these geopolitical and strategic shifts are already evident in the changing bunkering volumes across various African ports. For instance, the closure of Algoa Bay resulted in an immediate spike in volumes at Port Louis and Walvis Bay.

Port Louis, in particular, saw its bunkering volume double, propelled by its competitive market and the presence of high-quality, low-cost VLSFO suppliers. This saturation and competitiveness are beneficial for keeping prices favourable for shipping companies and for Mauritius, enhancing its allure as a bunkering destination.

Durban port witnessed a modest increase in bunkering activities, primarily from vessels already scheduled to call at the port. The challenges faced by Durban, particularly in selling imported MGO duty-free for export due to tax legislation issues, highlight the broader need for modernising customs and tax laws to support efficient bunkering operations in South Africa.

Cape Town and Luanda are also reaping the benefits of the current maritime shifts. Cape Town has seen significant increases in bunkering volumes, aided by the addition of two barges, despite the high local prices. Luanda, with its local refinery, has become an attractive option for buyers seeking the continent’s cheapest VLSFO, despite the uncertainties surrounding supply operations.

The emergence of Walvis Bay as a key player in capturing the rerouted trade further illustrates the dynamic changes within the African bunkering landscape. The steady increase in volumes since September, with a notable surge post-December, underscores the port’s growing significance in the industry.

These developments call for a concerted effort to modernise customs legislation and improve port operations across Africa. Such reforms are crucial for enhancing the continent’s attractiveness as a bunkering location and fostering a more efficient and competitive bunkering sector. Engaging with legislative processes and advocating for private partnerships in port management are essential steps toward achieving this goal.

As the Regional Manager (Africa), I am witnessing an era of potential growth and transformation in Africa’s bunkering sector. The continent’s strategic response to recent maritime challenges, coupled with a proactive approach to infrastructure development and international collaboration, will set the stage for a more prominent role in the global maritime economy.

The current momentum not only presents an opportunity for Africa to cement its position as a bunkering hub but also serves as a call to action for stakeholders to navigate these new waters with foresight, cooperation, and a shared vision for a prosperous maritime future.


Photo credit: International Bunker Industry Association
Published: 14 March 2024

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Methanol Institute: Breakthroughs and Strategic Moves in Sustainable Marine Fuels (Week 23, 3-9 June 2024)

This week, the maritime industry made pivotal advancements in methanol fuel technology, forged strategic partnerships, and achieved key regulatory milestones, highlighting a concerted effort toward greener marine operations.





Methanol Institute logo

The Methanol Institute, provides an exclusive weekly commentary on developments related to the adoption of methanol as a bunker fuel, including significant related events recorded during the week, for the readers of bunkering publication Manifold Times:

More heavy hitters are getting behind the supply of methanol to marine customers as the demand for newbuildings continues to strengthen.

The ramp-up in biofuels provided by energy major ExxonMobil are expected to support the industry’s decarbonization process as owners place further orders, vessels hit the water and new bunkering operations are planned.

Methanol marine fuel related developments for Week 23 of 2024:

ExxonMobil Expands Marine Biofuels Offering for Shipping Industry
Date: June 4th, 2024

Key Points: ExxonMobil is expanding its marine biofuels offering, actively engaging with multiple customers, including Hapag Lloyd and Wallenius Wilhelmsen. Recent deliveries from its Fawley refinery to several UK ports have demonstrated successful biofuel use without engine modifications. Biofuels are expected to play a significant role in the first phase of shipping's decarbonization, with a future shift towards methanol, ammonia, and hydrogen. ExxonMobil is exploring technologies and pathways to meet the industry's low-emission fuel needs.

DNV: Growing Demand for Methanol-Fueled Vessels Evident in May Newbuild Orders
Date: June 4th, 2024

Key Points: DNV's recent data shows a significant increase in orders for methanol-fueled vessels, with 23 out of 33 new orders in May being methanol-powered. This trend highlights the maritime industry’s growing appetite for methanol as a viable alternative fuel, driven by its lower emissions and alignment with decarbonization goals. Methanol's role is increasingly pivotal as the shipping sector seeks sustainable and compliant fuel options to meet future environmental regulations.

NKT Orders Methanol-Powered Cable-Laying Vessel
Date: June 5th, 2024

Key Points: NKT has ordered a 176-meter dual-fuel cable-laying vessel, the NKT Eleonora, capable of running on methanol, HVO, and MDO. Scheduled for operation in 2027, this vessel reflects NKT's commitment to sustainability and enhancing installation capacity. The decision to build a methanol-fueled vessel aligns with NKT’s strategic goal of providing greener power cable solutions, supporting the industry's shift towards environmentally friendly fuels.

Hagland Shipping Orders Methanol-Convertible Bulk Carriers
Date: June 5th, 2024

Key Points: Hagland Shipping has ordered four 5,000 DWT dry bulk carriers from Dutch shipyard Royal Bodewes. These vessels are designed to be easily converted to methanol propulsion in the future, reducing CO2 emissions by 40-50% and NOx emissions by 90-95% compared to the oldest ships in their fleet. The first ship is expected to be delivered by the end of 2025, enhancing Hagland's commitment to sustainability and emission reduction in Northern Europe and the Baltic region.

Headway Technology Group Opens New Office in Greece
Date: June 6th, 2024

Key Points: Headway Technology Group (Qingdao) Co., Ltd. has inaugurated a new office in Greece, coinciding with the first day of the Posidonia 2024 exhibition. This expansion aims to strengthen Headway's presence in the European low-carbon shipping sector, providing enhanced technical support and services. The new office will showcase Headway's methanol fuel supply systems and other green technologies, reinforcing their commitment to sustainable maritime solutions and supporting the global shift towards low-emission shipping practices.

Vopak Partners to Establish Green Methanol Bu Methanol Bunkering in China
Date: June 6th, 2024

Key Points: Vopak has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the vice mayor of Tianjin to develop a green methanol bunkering operation in Northern China's Tianjin port. This initiative aims to repurpose existing infrastructure for new energy projects, positioning Tianjin as a crucial logistics hub for green methanol development. The partnership with Tianjin Port Group underscores Vopak's commitment to supporting sustainable maritime fuels and contributing to the global energy transition.

New Methanol-Ready Fallpipe Vessel Named "Yellowstone"
Date: June 7th, 2024

Key Points: DEME Group's new fallpipe vessel, the 37,000 DWT "Yellowstone," has been officially named in a ceremony held in Zeebrugge, Belgium. The vessel, designed for future conversion to methanol dual-fuel propulsion, features a hybrid power plant with a 1 MWh Li-ion battery. The naming ceremony, attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid, underscores DEME's commitment to innovation and sustainability in marine operations.


Photo credit: The Methanol Institute
Published: 14 June 2024

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Baltic Exchange: Bunker Report (13 June 2024)

Bunker report panellists include Island Oil Limited, Cockett Marine Oil Pte, Monjasa A/S and KPI OceanConnect.





Baltic bunker report 13 June

The following bunker report has been provided by freight market information provider Baltic Exchange for post on Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times:


All values are in US$/metric ton, all-in (invoice price), delivered on board
Delivery in 7-10 days
ISO 8217:2010
IFO 380 3.5% Sulphur
IFO 380 0.5% Sulphur
DMA 0.1% Sulphur

Rotterdam – Waalhaven – Maasvlakte range
Houston – Houston Harbor
Singapore – Anchorage, under SBA Scheme
Fujairah – Offshore Anchorage Area

Submitted weekly at Close of Business UK time, on Tuesday & Thursdays

Island Oil Limited, Cockett Marine Oil Pte, Monjasa A/S, KPI OceanConnect


Photo credit and source: Baltic Exchange
Published: 14 June 2024

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ENGINE: Americas Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook (13 June 2024)

Availability tight in NOLA; low bunker demand in GOLA; bad weather disrupts Freeport bunkering.






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

  • Availability tight in NOLA
  • Low bunker demand in GOLA
  • Bad weather disrupts Freeport bunkering

North America

Bunker demand has remained good in Houston and several other locations along the US Gulf Coast this week. Availability of all fuel grades has been normal for prompt supply in Houston. Several suppliers in Houston have ample VLSFO and LSMGO availability and are actively offering stems for prompt deliveries. VLSFO stems for non-prompt dates were being fixed at as low as $567/mt on Thursday.

Prompt VLSFO and LSMGO supply is available in Bolivar Roads and Beaumont. However, bunker deliveries in these locations remain subject to weather conditions and the availability of anchorage spaces, a source says.

Availability has tightened in the New Orleans Outer Anchorage’s (NOLA) this week. One supplier requires 7–10 days to deliver VLSFO and LSMGO stems in NOLA.

Bunkering was proceeding normally in the Galveston Offshore Lightering Area (GOLA) on Thursday amid good weather conditions. The weather is forecast to remain calm over the weekend and into next week. Overall, demand has been very low this week at the anchorage.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on the West Coast have experienced a notable surge in demand this week. One contributing factor could be the competitive bunker prices in the twin ports compared to prices seen in other West Coast ports like Seattle and Vancouver.

VLSFO and LSMGO availability has been better than normal in Los Angeles and Long Beach. One supplier can supply both grades with a lead time of just four days, which is much shorter than the typical 7-9 days observed in these ports.

Prompt VLSFO and LSMGO are available in the East Coast port of New York.

Baltimore’s main shipping channel has been restored to its full depth and width after the removal of debris from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. Bunker demand has been steady there, and most suppliers are able to offer stems with a lead time of 5-7 days.

Caribbean and Latin America

Bunker fuel availability has been normal in the Panamanian ports of Balboa and Cristobal. At least four suppliers can offer all bunker grades in Balboa, with lead times of up to seven days.

Demand has surged for Balboa compared to Cristobal for prompt dates.

Bunker operations were suspended in the Bahamas’ Freeport on Thursday due to strong wind gusts of up to 27 knots. The weather is expected to remain rough until Saturday, which could cause prolonged delays and disruptions.

Operations were also suspended in Argentina's Zona Comun anchorage on Thursday due to adverse weather conditions. The area was experiencing strong wind gusts of up to 30 knots, making barge deliveries difficult there.

Availability of VLSFO and LSMGO remains tight in Zona Commune for prompt dates. One supplier can offer VLSFO stems at the anchorage only for deliveries after 20 June, a source says.

In Brazil, bunker demand has been low across most ports, including Santos and Rio de Janeiro. Several suppliers are able to offer stems with a lead time of 5-7 days.

By Debarati Bhattacharjee


Photo credit and source: ENGINE
Published: 14 June, 2024

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