U.S. Gulf Coast Offshore Bunkering Competition Pared Back

May 11, 2022

The number of market participants performing offshore bunkering operations in the U.S. Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico further dwindled in 2022.

Earlier this year, OPIS heard that Glencore would cease using the Kirkeholmen tanker for offshore bunkering operations in the U.S. Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico regions. When asked, Glencore would not comment on the vessel and the company’s bunkering operations.

In February, the vessel headed out of the Gulf Coast after spending nearly the past year working the U.S. Gulf Coast offshore business.

The move comes not as a surprise as OPIS earlier this year reported that Glencore had pared back U.S. bunkering operations’ personnel.

A look at PIERS U.S. Customs data showed the Kirkeholmen tanker loaded marine gasoil cargoes at the Battleground Oil Specialty terminal in Houston throughout last year and into early 2022.

The Kirkeholmen is not the only vessel that has exited the USGC offshore bunkering business.

Late last year, the Bonaire Trader was heard to have gone onto moving cargoes in the Caribbean region rather than performing USGC offshore bunkering.

Gulf Coast Fuel Supply company jumped into the USGC offshore business in mid-2021 with its announcement of using the Bonaire Trader as its bunkering vessel. The tanker loaded its cargoes, such as MGO, at the Texas International terminal in Galveston.

Ship tracking data currently shows the tanker hanging close to the STATIA terminal in St. Eustatius.

Marine fuel bunker supply business at the Prostar GTI Statia terminal in St. Eustatius are handled through a partnership between GTI Statia and Vitol, which was announced in June 2020.

Combined with the Statia business, Vitol was still performing USGC offshore bunkering.

Since July 2021, Vitol has been using the Morholmen tanker for its first offshore bunkering in the U.S. Gulf Coast and Caribbean supply offerings. The company switched to the Brentholmen in March 2022.

A look at PIERS U.S. Customs data showed the Morholmen tanker loads cargoes of diesel, marine gasoil, low sulfur fuel oil and high sulfur fuel oil in Houston at the Battleground Oil Specialty and SemGroup terminals.

Four other companies that appeared to be in the offshore business include Bunker One, Chevron, John W. Stone and Trafigura.

Bunker One in May 2020 announced using the Furuholmen for offshore bunkering in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Also, the Furuholmen tanker could be associated with performing offshore bunkering operations in the USGC for other majors and trading companies.

PIERS data shows the tanker was involved with loading cargoes of LSMGO in Houston and Galveston and discharging in the Gulf of Mexico. Ship tracking data indicates the tanker was performing bunkering operations.

Companies associated with the LSMGO cargoes include BP, Freepoint Commodities, Motiva Enterprises and Philips 66.

Chevron appeared to still be in the offshore business moving at the end of 2021 being associated with the Storholmen tanker, which delivered cargoes out in the Gulf of Mexico. Chevron announced their offshore launch in May 2020.

So far this year, ship tracking data shows the Storholmen continued to perform offshore bunkering operations.

Ship tracking data indicates that John W. Stone’s Gulf Venture tanker was still performing offshore bunkering outside of Houston. The company entered the offshore bunkering business in October 2020 and business still appears to be brisk for the Gulf Coast-headquartered company.

Trafigura appeared to be associated as shipper with the Brentholmen tanker at the start of the year, according to PIERS data. Trafigura is majority owner of the world marine fuel service TFG Marine with shipping companies Frontline and Golden Ocean.

Over the past year, the Brentholmen tanker loaded HSFO, MGO and VLSFO cargoes at the SemGroup Houston terminal as well as the Texas international Terminal in Galveston.

Other companies that have pulled out of the GOM offshore business include GCC and Minerva, with sources at the time saying there was not enough business.

--Reporting by Eric Wieser, twieser@opisnet.com
--Editing by Tom Sosnowski, tsosnowski@opisnet.com

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