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Sri Lankan ports experience surge in bunker demand

By: Staff Writer

April 01, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lankan ports are witnessing a remarkable surge in bunker demand, driven by ongoing global navigation challenges, particularly in the Red Sea region.

This uptick in demand comes as ships reroute their voyages to avoid affected areas, with Sri Lanka emerging as a key refuelling and restocking destination amidst the uncertainties.

Recent data from Bunkerworld reveals a significant 33 percent increase in bunker sales volume at Colombo, one of Sri Lanka’s major ports, reaching an impressive 40,000 metric tons per month.

This surge underscores the growing importance of Sri Lankan ports in supporting international maritime operations amid evolving geopolitical tensions and navigation disruptions.

As shipowners and charters continue to take longer voyages to avoid Red Sea, bunker demand across ports on India’s west coast has risen and VLSFO supplies at the ports of Kochi and Mumbai remain disrupted.

Despite the increased demand, price movements were mixed as of March 28. Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed 0.5 percent marine fuel oil delivered to Kochi at US $ 700/mt CFR, up US $ 20/mt on the week, while in Mumbai, prices fell to US $ 698/mt, down US $ 8/mt.

In Sri Lanka, prices at Colombo were assessed at US $ 700/mt, down US $ 7/mt on the week, according to S&P Global data.

“Demand has substantially increased, almost by 30 percent across Mumbai, Kochi and Gujrat ports. Long haul vessels are calling more often now. The volumes that were being lifted at King Abdullah port, Yanbu, Djibouti and Suez Canal have now shifted to Indian and Sri Lankan ports,” a Gujarat-based trader told S&P Global.

“Longer voyages coupled with a shortage of VLSFO at some Indian ports has increased demand at Kandla and Mundra,” said a Kandla-based supplier.

The unavailability of product at the Indian port of Kochi has raised demand at Sri Lankan ports of Colombo and Hambantota.

Supply shortages at Indian ports have also prompted India-based traders to divert their queries to Sri Lanka.

“Demand has almost doubled since January. Tightness across Indian markets during the first few weeks also helped us to capture the demand. Interestingly, we’re seeing a considerable number of inquiries for HSFO. There are three active high sulfur fuel oil suppliers in the market now,” a Colombo-based trader told S&P Global.

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