News 29th Nov, 2023

Europe & Africa Fuel Availability Outlook 29 Nov 2023

Malta Offshore
Richards Bay

HSFO supply improves in the ARA

Prompt VLSFO availability tight in Piraeus 

LSMGO is tight in Durban and Richards Bay

PHOTO: Oil refinery and storage tanks in the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands. Getty Images

Northwest Europe

VLSFO availability has tightened in the ARA hub, a trader said. Lead times of 5-7 days are recommended to ensure full coverage from all suppliers, up from 3-5 days in the previous week.

HSFO supply has shown signs of improvement in the ARA hub in recent days. Some suppliers are now able to offer the grade with lead times of less than three days. However, for smooth coverage, lead times of 5-7 days are still recommended.

The ARA’s independently held fuel oil stocks have averaged 14% higher so far this month, than in October, according to Insights Global data. The stocks have grown to three-month highs despite indications of lower imports.

According to cargo tracker Vortexa, the region has imported 225,000 b/d of fuel oil so far this month, down from 243,000 b/d imported in October.

The UK has emerged as the ARA's biggest fuel oil import source this month, accounting for 22% of the region's total imports. Fuel oil imports from Turkey accounted for 21% of the total imports, followed by Lithuania (10%). ARA has also sourced its fuel oil imports from Poland (6%) and Germany (5%).

Meanwhile, the ARA hub’s independent gasoil inventories — which include gasoil and heating oil — have declined by 4% this month.

HSFO availability remains tight for delivery off Skaw, partly because of fewer suppliers offering the grade. Lead times of 7-10 days are recommended for the grade.

LSMGO availability is very tight in the Norwegian port of Oslo. The grade is typically delivered by trucks and lead times of 5-7 days are recommended there, a trader says.

In the German port of Hamburg, lead times of 3-5 days are recommended for all three bunker grades.


Prompt HSFO supply is available in Gibraltar, with some suppliers having adequate product available to cater to prompt enquiries. Lead times of up to three days are recommended for HSFO, down from 4-6 days in the previous week.

Lead times of 3-5 days are recommended for VLSFO and LSMGO deliveries in Gibraltar, a trader says.

VLSFO and LSMGO availability is good in the Portuguese ports of Lisbon and Sines, according to a source.  

Due to rough weather conditions off Malta, bunker supply was only available in the more sheltered bunkering area four out of the six bunkering areas on Wednesday, port agent MH Bland said. The forecast for persistent rough weather over the coming days and through the weekend suggests that bunker operations could remain disrupted, potentially extending delivery lead times further ahead.

Some suppliers are able to supply small quantities of bunkers for prompt delivery dates off Malta as and when weather permits. Meanwhile, one supplier can offer the earliest delivery by 5 December for all three grades, a trader says.

VLSFO availability is tight in the Greek port of Piraeus. The earliest delivery date with a supplier for the grade is 5 December.

Adverse weather conditions have also impacted bunkering in the Turkish port of Istanbul. Strong winds and heavy swells have prevailed in the region since the end of last week, a source said. 

Turkey’s Ceyhan and Iskenderun Bay areas have also been experiencing bad weather since Saturday. This has disrupted smooth bunker deliveries there, according to the source.


LSMGO supply remains tight in the South African ports of Richards Bay and Durban. Recommended lead times for the grade are more than ten days at both ports, according to a trader.

VLSFO availability is relatively better and lead times of up to 5-7 days are recommended in both Richards Bay and Durban.

Offshore bunkering in Algoa Bay has remained suspended for nearly three months now. The deliveries came to a standstill after the South African Revenue Service (SARS) detained bunker barges over import duty disputes in September

Negotiations between offshore bunker suppliers and authorities have reached an advanced stage and a decision may be announced in December, a port agent told ENGINE.  

Meanwhile, bunker supply is available in the adjacent Port Elizabeth, where only one supplier is delivering stems, the port agent added.

Bunker demand has spiked in Mozambique's ports of Nacala and Maputo in recent months because of the ongoing bunkering crisis in Algoa Bay. One supplier recently received a new VLSFO cargo at Nacala, which could ease supply pressure and help cater to increased demand.

“The arrival of a new VLSFO cargo at Nacala has helped ease supply pressure and reduce lead times for booking stems,” the supplier said. 

Availability is good for all three bunker grades in Nacala. Meanwhile, VLSFO availability is tight in Maputo with one supplier able to supply the grade from 7 December. LSMGO availability is normal in the port.

By Manjula Nair

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