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ENGINE: Europe & Africa Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

Thursday, 08 February 2024 | 01:00

Northwest Europe

LSMGO availability is good for prompt delivery dates of 2-4 days in the ARA, according to a trader. Longer lead times of 5-7 days are recommended for HSFO and VLSFO grades.
The ARA’s independently held fuel oil stocks averaged 14% bigger in January than across December, according to Insights Global data.

The region imported 222,000 b/d of fuel oil in January, which was just 2,000 b/d up from December, according to cargo tracker Vortexa. The ARA imported low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) and HSFO in a 54/46 ratio in December, while in January this ratio tilted more towards HSFO and changed to 48/52.

The UK emerged as the ARA hub’s largest fuel oil source, accounting for 19% of the ARA’s total imports in January, followed by the US (13%) and Poland (12%).

The ARA’s independent gasoil inventories – which include diesel and heating oil – increased by 4% in January. The ARA imported 399,000 b/d of gasoil in January, up from 373,000 b/d imported in December.

In the German port of Hamburg, availability across all grades is currently good. Lead times are recommended at 3-5 days, according to a trader.

Off Skaw, LSMGO and VLSFO grades are available with lead times of 5-7 days, a trader told ENGINE. HSFO remains tight and is only available for non-prompt deliveries. Lead times of 7-10 days are recommended for the high sulphur grade.


Demand has dipped in Gibraltar, according to a trader. Lead times for HSFO are advised at 6-8 days, and at 5-6 days for VLSFO. In contrast, LSMGO is available for prompt delivery and lead times of 2-4 days are recommended.

Strong wind gusts of up to 25 knots are forecast to hit the Gibraltar Strait on Thursday, which could impact bunkering in the ports there. The strait is also set to experience rough weather on Friday, when wind gusts are forecast to reach 45 knots.

In Las Palmas, HSFO supply tightness continues from last week. Prompt VLSFO and LSMGO supply is also tight there amid strong demand, a trader says. The port has been witnessing high demand over the past month due to vessel diversions from the Red Sea.

Strong winds of 25 knots have caused bunker disruptions off Malta. Bad weather is also forecast for the rest of the week with wind gusts between 24-25 knots forecast on Thursday and Friday, which can disrupt bunkering and cause a backlog.

In the Greek port of Piraeus, availability currently is good across all bunker grades, a trader said. Increased wind speeds on Saturday may impact operations.

Availability across all grades is also good in Turkey’s Istanbul, according to a trader. Currently, bunkering is proceeding smoothly at the port amid calm weather conditions. Weather disruptions are likely in the area and may impact bunkering, a trader says.


In the South African ports of Durban and Richards Bay, VLSFO availability is very tight, according to a trader. Lead times have varied widely in recent weeks, with some now recommending lead times of more than 10 days.

LSMGO supply is limited in these two South African ports, prompting some ships to turn to Mauritius’ Port Louis for bunkers, where availability is normal, a trader says.
Strong wind gusts of 25 knots are forecast in Durban on Wednesday, and gusts of 29 knots on Saturday.

Demand is good in Mozambique’s Nacala and Maputo ports. While Nacala has good availability across all grades, Maputo is witnessing tight availability for prompt delivery dates for VLSFO, but good availability of LSMGO.

Namibia’s Walvis Bay has seen strong demand since vessel diversions were announced in December. This has been reflected in fuel sample data from testing labs that ENGINE has access to.
Source: ENGINE, By Manjula Nair,

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