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ENGINE: Americas Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

Image Credit: Manifold Times

Repost: 5 January 2022

  • Prompt supply getting tight in the Houston area
  • Thick fog disrupts Houston Ship Channel vessel traffic
  • Suppliers in GOLA work to clear backlogs

North America

Several suppliers in the Houston area have rushed to clear backlogs from recent fog disruptions. Thick fog and reduced visibility in recent days have impacted both inbound and outbound vessel traffic through the Houston Ship Channel. This resulted in a significant rise in congestion and delays that spilled into this week.

Securing stems for very prompt dates (0-3 days) can be difficult, although deliveries with a longer lead time can be manageable, a source says. Some suppliers in Houston are delivering on a first-come, first-serve basis to catch up on backlogs from the channel closures.

But suppliers have simultaneously cautioned bunker buyers about possible delays in the coming days. A moderate to high risk of fog and reduced visibility is forecast again this weekend and could halt vessel traffic in the channel.

The channel is a key waterway for vessels coming in and out of ports in the Houston area, including Galveston, Baytown and Texas City.

Suppliers in the Galveston Offshore Lightering Area (GOLA) are working to clear backlogs from recent weather disruptions. Calmer weather in the past two days has helped to ease some congestion, but bad weather is again forecast on Friday and Saturday, which could lead more congestion to build.

Meanwhile, suppliers continue to deliver stems as scheduled at the more sheltered Port of Galveston and no delays have been reported there, a source says. Some barges are trying to deliver stems in GOLA as and when the weather permits, a source says.

All grades remain tight for prompt delivery dates in the West Coast ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. A longer lead time of 10 days is generally recommended to ensure full coverage from suppliers. HSFO lead times are typically longer.

Bunker availability remains steady for all fuel grades in Mexico’s Manzanillo. Recommended lead times for HSFO, VLSFO and LSMGO are about five days out.

Caribbean and Latin America

VLSFO and LSMGO availability is normal in Jamaica’s Kingston. One supplier can offer stems for prompt dates and its earliest delivery dates are about 3-4 days out.

All grades are tight for prompt dates in Panama’s Balboa and Cristobal. Some suppliers in Balboa have held back offers amid tight schedules. The earliest delivery date with a supplier for VLSFO and LSMGO is as far away as 18 January.

Bunker fuel availability is normal in Colombia’s Cartagena and Santa Marta. The recommended lead time for VLSFO and LSMGO is about five days, a trader says.

Prompt LSMGO supply is tight in Uruguay’s Montevideo. Recommended lead times are about seven days out.

LSMGO availability is tight for prompt dates at Argentina’s Zona Comun anchorage. Meanwhile, VLSFO supply is more readily available. One supplier can deliver stems for prompt dates. However, high winds are forecast from Friday evening and through the weekend, which could trigger a suspension or delays.

Manifold Times

Marine Online Media Team
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