News 28th Feb, 2024

Europe & Africa Fuel Availability Outlook 28 Feb 2024

Malta Offshore
Port Elizabeth (Algoa Bay)
Port Louis
Richards Bay

Prompt LSMGO availability is good in ARA hub

HSFO tight for prompt delivery in Gibraltar 

LSMGO supply remains dry in Durban

PHOTO: A huge container ship being unloaded with cranes at a container terminal in Antwerp, Belgium. Getty Images

Northwest Europe

Availability is normal in Rotterdam and in the wider ARA hub. LSMGO can be delivered in the ARA hub within 2-4 days, a trader says. HSFO is available with slightly longer lead times of 4-6 days, while lead times of 5-7 days are advised for VLSFO, the trader said. 

The ARA’s independently held fuel oil stocks have averaged 1% lower so far this month than across January, according to Insights Global data.

The region has imported 172,000 b/d of fuel oil in February so far, down from 222,000 b/d in January, according to cargo tracker Vortexa data.

Greece has emerged as the ARA hub’s biggest fuel oil import source so far this month, accounting for 25% of the region's total imports this month. The UK (18%) has ranked second, followed by Poland (14%), Sweden (11%) and Germany (9%). 

The ARA hub’s independent gasoil inventories — which include diesel and heating oil — have increased by 6% in February so far. The ARA has imported 325,000 b/d in February so far, down from 399,000 b/d of gasoil imported in January.

In the German port of Hamburg, availability for all grades is normal. A trader advises lead times of 3-5 days for all grades, unchanged over the past few weeks. Strong wind gusts of 25 knots are forecast for Thursday, which may impact bunker operations.

Off Skaw, HSFO supply tightness continues, and the grade is only available for non-prompt delivery dates. Lead times of 7-10 days are generally advised for the grade, a trader said. LSMGO and VLSFO availability is slightly better, with the two bunker grades available for lead times of 5-7 days. Rough weather is forecast off Skaw starting Thursday and may negatively impact operations, says port agent MH Bland. 


In Gibraltar port, prompt HSFO availability is running tight, with only non-prompt dates available, a trader said. Lead times of 6-8 days are recommended for HSFO, while lead times of 5-6 days are advised for VLSFO. LSMGO availability is better in comparison to other grades, and prompt supply is available. A trader advises lead times of 2-4 days for the grade.  

Gibraltar was facing severe congestion and longer waiting times on Wednesday. Most suppliers are working to clear bunker backlogs, triggered by a weather-induced bunkering suspension earlier this week. Congestion in Gibraltar caused delays of around 24 hours on Wednesday, a source said. As a result, ships are being redirected to Algeciras, where shorter eight-hour delays were reported, the source added. 

The nearby port of Ceuta has also experienced a surge in demand over the last few days because of delays in Gibraltar and Algeciras. Ceuta sold about 620,000 mt of bunker fuel in 2023, according to the Port of Ceuta authority.

Meanwhile, other Mediterranean ports like Piraeus, Malta Offshore and Istanbul have witnessed comparatively low demand, a trader told ENGINE. 

Availability at the Greek port of Piraeus is currently normal. HSFO availability for prompt dates was slightly tight during the earlier part of this week, but supply eased some coming into Wednesday, the trader said. A two-day country-wide workers' strike action was announced in Greece on Wednesday and may impact bunkering operations, the trader added. Bunker operations will fully resume on Friday once the workers call off the strike. Strong wind gusts of 23 knots are forecast for Friday in Piraeus and may further hamper bunkering in the port.

Availability is normal off Malta, with prompt delivery dates available, a source said. Malta has been witnessing adverse weather, which can affect bunkering. Strong wind gusts of 24 knots hit the area on Wednesday. Rough weather is also forecast on Friday and over the weekend, which will likely lead to bunker backlogs, MH Bland said. 

Demand has been very low in Turkey’s Istanbul port, a trader said. Availability is normal across all grades. Calm weather is forecast in the area for the rest of the week. 


Availability continues to be tight for VLSFO in the South African ports of Durban and Richards Bay. The two ports have been grappling with severe VLSFO shortages for over a month now. Lead times for VLSFO have ranged between 10-14 days over the past few weeks. 

LSMGO supplies have also been running dry in the South African ports of Durban and Richards Bay for over a month now. A trader advises lead times of well over ten days for LSMGO. Despite supply challenges, demand has been steady in Durban, a source said. 

As a result, vessels are now turning to Port Louis in Mauritius to fulfil their bunkering requirements. Demand has been very strong in Port Louis over the past few weeks. Availability for all grades is currently normal at the port.  

In South Africa’s Algoa Bay, offshore bunkering remains suspended at the anchorage. Bunker deliveries in Algoa Bay came to a halt in September last year after the South African Revenue Service (SARS) detained bunker barges over import duty disputes. Since then, only in-port deliveries have been offered by one supplier in Port Elizabeth.

By Manjula Nair  

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