Ships divert as bunker shortage affects Durban

Oct 2, 2003
Author: P&S

A number of ships have diverted to Richards Bay to load bunkers after the port of Durban began running short this week.

Mr Kieran Sullivan, managing director of Foreshore Ships Agency, which represents Pacific International Line (PIL) in South Africa, confirmed that several PIL ships had diverted to Richards Bay after completing cargo working at Durban because there was no available heavy bunker fuel.

But a spokesman for FFS Bunkers, which ferries bunkers between Durban and Richards Bay on board the coastal tanker Dolphin Coast, warned that fuel at the northern KwaZulu Natal port was not being replenished and could soon run out if normal supplies were not resumed.

The problem appears to be an abnormal demand for bunkers at Durban which has exceeded the daily production rate of between 7,500 and 10,000 tonnes, said the Joint Bunkering Services, which distributes bunker fuel from the refineries in Durban.

He suggested that low prices in Durban during September might have resulted in more ships re-fuelling than normal. By yesterday the Durban price had risen four US dollars to USD 164,50 for pipeline supply. An average of USD 3.50 applies as an additional charge for bunker barge services at Durban.

Adding to the problem, the port recently (end September) completed an export order of 55,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil, which was loaded on board the tanker Seamercury over a period of nearly one week at Island View 8.

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