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Namibia and Mozambique bunker demand jumps amid South Africa constraints

Red Sea diversions boosting bunker fuel demand in African hubs such as Walvis Bay and Nacala, while South African ports struggle with increased activity

Bunker suppliers TFG Marine and Monjasa reported rising demand in Namibia, Mozambique and Mauritius, as vessels rerouting from the Red Sea region to the Cape of Good Hope require refuelling

BUNKERING demand in Namibia, Mozambique and Mauritius has increased as ships divert from the Red Sea around Africa, and as South Africa’s bunkering hubs struggle with port congestion and supply constraints.

Danish bunker supplier Monjasa moved three of its bunker delivery vessels to Namibia recently to meet stronger demand.

“Demand across the west Africa region, and Namibia in particular, is still high, however, we are yet to experience supply shortages. The region is keeping up,” said Monjasa senior trader Simone Piredda.

TFG Marine, another major supplier in Africa, reported higher demand in Namibia’s offshore bunkering location Walvis Bay as well as Mozambique and Mauritius, as port congestion and scarce supply limit demand in South Africa. Primary bunkering ports in Mozambique are Nacala and Maputo.

A source said the uptick in African bunkering demand is likely owing to Red Sea diversions, adding that some vessels could complete the longer voyage by only refuelling once depending on their fuel tank size.

But, bunkering for longer voyages requires advanced planning and most vessels will likely start taking more fuel in bunkering hubs such as Singapore and Rotterdam in the coming weeks and months, the source said.

Bunkering demand in African ports rose by 10%-15% in January compared with the month prior, according to TFG. The company, which runs 10 bunker barges in Africa, will use added barges from Mauritius in the near future, a TFG spokesperson told Lloyd’s List.

Bunkering in offshore locations, such as Walvis Bay has advantages over in-port refuelling, as ports often prioritise cargo calls over bunker-only calls, a Monjasa spokesperson said. “During moments like this with a sudden change of trade flows, offshore supplies can be arranged and completed much more efficiently compared to most in-port options in Africa.”


Bunker fuel prices in the South African ports of Durban and Cape Town rose in the past month, with very-low sulphur fuel oil values reaching $787.5 per tonne in Cape Town on January 22, up by $80 since December 27, according to price reporting agency Argus Media.

VLSFO prices in Namibia’s Walvis Bay reached $755.25 on January 22, up slightly from $751 on January 19, according to broker Bunkerex.

Durban is experiencing congestion as the port is not used to increased bunkering demand, said Jon Hughes, managing director at Dan Bunkering’s South Africa branch.

“There’s definitely increasing bunkering interest in South Africa, although not necessarily a marked increase in actual fixtures,” Hughes added. Durban is historically the biggest bunkering hub in South Africa.

South Africa’s bunker market has been experiencing supply constraints since September, as deliveries stopped in Algoa Bay’s Port Elizabeth — one of the main hubs — because of a tax dispute with the government.

“Bunker supply in Algoa Bay remains suspended and it doesn’t look like it will start any time soon,” Hughes said.

South Africa’s Cape Town oil refinery has been supplying very-low sulphur fuel oil to the local bunkering market since its restart in early 2023, according to its owner Astron Energy.

But local refinery production is not enough to meet local marine fuel demand. South Africa is a net fuel oil importer; it imported an average of 60,000 tonnes per month in 2023, while a further 53,000 tonnes were imported in January, according to oil analytics firm Vortexa. Commodity trading giant Glencore owns 72% of Astron Energy South Africa, according to Astron’s website. 

South Africa could lose more traffic to neighbouring countries in the coming years if problems including port congestion persist, as countries such as Mozambique plan to expand port infrastructure.

Mozambique approved plans by port operators including DP World for a $2bn expansion of its port of Maputo, near its border with South Africa, according to Bloomberg.


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