News 8th May, 2024

Europe & Africa Fuel Availability Outlook 8 May 2024

Las Palmas
Malta Offshore
Port Elizabeth (Algoa Bay)
Richards Bay

HSFO tightness has eased in the ARA

Rough weather may impact bunkering in Gibraltar

VLSFO supply has tightened in Nacala

PHOTO: A cargo terminal in Piraeus harbour in Greece. Getty Images

Northwest Europe

Availability of all three grades is normal in Rotterdam and the wider ARA hub. HSFO supply tightness in Rotterdam has eased coming into this week, according to a trader. Lead times for HSFO have come down from last week's 4-6 days to 3-5 days now.

Lead times for LSMGO and VLSFO grades have remained unchanged since last week. While lead times of 3-5 days are recommended for LSMGO, VLSFO requires 4-5 days of lead time, according to a trader.  

The ARA’s independently held fuel oil stocks averaged 2% lower in April than across March, according to Insights Global data.

The region imported 252,000 b/d of fuel oil in April, slightly down from 254,000 b/d in March, according to data from cargo tracker Vortexa.  

The US emerged as the ARA’s biggest fuel oil import source in April, accounting for 16% of the region’s total imports. The UK ranked second, accounting for 12% of the region’s total imports, followed by France (11%), Mexico and Saudi Arabia (9% each). 

The ARA hub’s independent gasoil inventories — which include diesel and heating oil — averaged 5% higher in April than in March. Gasoil stocks have risen to their highest levels since June last year. The region imported 358,000 b/d of gasoil in April, down from 373,000 b/d imported in March.

The German port of Hamburg has normal availability across all bunker grades. Some suppliers are able to offer prompt delivery dates for grades. A trader advises lead times of 3-5 days for all grades for maximum coverage from suppliers. 

Bunker fuel availability has improved off Skaw, but securing prompt supply remains a challenge. Recommended lead times have come down from 10-14 days seen in the past week to 7-10 days now, a trader says. Weather disruptions could complicate bunker deliveries off Skaw on Thursday, a source said. 


Availability is normal in Gibraltar, but rough weather conditions have pushed lead times further ahead. Lead times for all grades have increased from last week's 3-5 days to 4-6 days now. Wind gusts ranging between 16-28 knots are forecast to hit Gibraltar from Wednesday onwards, which could disrupt bunker operations until Saturday. Winds at the higher end of that range can pose problems for bunker deliveries by barges. 

In the Canary Islands’ port of Las Palmas, availability is normal. All three bunker fuel grades are available for prompt delivery, according to a trader. Lead times of 3-5 days are recommended for all three grades in the port. 

Bunker demand has been mostly steady in other Mediterranean ports, including Piraeus, Malta Offshore and Istanbul, a trader said. 

Prompt availability is tight in the Greek port of Piraeus, with lead times of 3-4 days advised for all grades. Bunkering activity was mostly minimal during the weekend and on Monday due to the Orthodox Easter Holidays, a trader told ENGINE. Adverse weather is forecast to hit Piraeus between Thursday and Saturday, which may hamper bunkering in the area, according to a source. 

Off Malta, availability is normal across all grades, but securing grades for very prompt delivery dates (0-2 days) can be difficult, a trader said. One trader advises lead times of 3-4 days for all grades in the port. The weather is forecast to remain rough until Saturday, which could impact bunkering there.

In Turkey’s Istanbul port, availability is slightly tight for prompt dates, and lead times of 3-4 days are advised for all grades, a trader said.

Vessel traffic was temporarily suspended in the Bosphorus Strait for both directions on Tuesday after a vessel ran aground earlier in the day. Istanbul's bunkering was unaffected due to the closure, with most local suppliers offering bunkers to ships in the port, a trader said. The Strait was opened to vessel traffic later that day after Turkey's Directorate General of Coastal Safety refloated the vessel.


VLSFO is available for non-prompt delivery dates in the South African ports of Durban and Richards Bay. Lead times of 7-10 days are recommended for the grade in these ports. 

LSMGO availability is also available in Durban, with lead times of 7-10 days advised by a trader. Wind gusts of up to 29 knots on Wednesday and 35 knots on Saturday may impact bunkering in Durban.

VLSFO availability has been tight in Mozambique’s Nacala amid high demand for the grade in the port. In contrast, LSMGO availability is better, but demand for the grade has been low, a source told ENGINE. HSFO demand has been steady, and the grade is reported to be good in terms of availability in the port. 

Maputo in Mozambique has good availability of both VLSFO and LSMGO, a source said. Demand has been steady for both grades in the port. 

Offshore bunker operations have remained suspended in Algoa Bay since last September, when the South African Revenue Service (SARS) detained bunker barges due to import duty disputes. Since then, bunker supply has been limited to in-port deliveries by one supplier in Port Elizabeth, where supply is only available by truck.

By Manjula Nair

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