Bunker fuels of all grades are generally in good availability in European ports, but HSFO380 remains tight in Istanbul this week. With limited HSFO380 volumes to supply in Istanbul, its price has risen to considerable premiums over regional ports. HSFO380 is now priced $40/mt higher in Istanbul than in Piraeus, where availability has been steadier. Resupply to Istanbul is expected within days, sources say, and may ease the upward price pressure then. A new bunker barge entered the Maltese offshore market this week. The barge will allow the supplier to carry HSFO380 for the first time, in addition to VLSFO and LSMGO. Only one other supplier regularly offers HSFO380 in Malta, and the addition of another barge could bolster Malta’s supply capacity and lead to more price competition.
Malta’s HSFO380 price has come down by $25/mt since 1 August, which is about twice as big of a price drop as in the Gibraltar Strait and Canary Islands ports. Prices are at near parity between Malta and these ports now. Bunker availability continues to be good for VLSFO, LSMGO and HSFO380 in the ARA hub and northern European ports, and there are no reported shortages. ARA’s residual fuel oil stocks grew by 4% to 6.75 million bbls last week, ending five weeks of draws. Fuel availability is also plentiful in Gibraltar. Congestion was minimal in the port on Tuesday and Wednesday, with only one vessel waiting for a bunker barge to become ready, according to port agent MH Bland.
Rough weather disrupted outer anchorage bunkering in Las Palmas last weekend and delayed several deliveries. The swell came down to more manageable levels at the beginning of this week, allowing for outer anchorage bunkering to proceed. Moderate swell is expected again on Thursday morning, and from Monday next week. There is also less swell in Port Elizabeth and Algoa Bay following a period of rough seas and delayed bunkering at anchorage. Three vessels were scheduled to arrive for bunkering in Algoa Bay on Wednesday. Another four will arrive on Thursday and Friday, and weather conditions are expected to “remain fairly consistent throughout the week,” according to shipping agent Sturrock Grindrod.