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Minerva Bunkering 'selling actively' in Fujairah as premiums rise: CEO

Highlights

Premiums rise on 'some market tightness'

Minerva Bunkering started at port in 2020

Not looking to be biggest player at port

Dubai — Minerva Bunkering is "selling actively" in Fujairah after delivered bunker premiums rose this month, according to Tyler Baron, CEO of the wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercuria Energy Group, one of the largest privately-owned energy and commodities companies in the world.

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An unexpected outage in the week of March 7 at Uniper Energy DMCC's refinery in Fujairah crimped marine bunker supplies, sending the premium for marine fuel 0.5%S bunker delivered at the port to a 13-month high on March 19.

The premium for Fujairah-delivered marine fuel 0.5%S bunker over FOB Singapore marine fuel 0.5%S cargo surged to $50.47/mt on March 19, the highest since Feb. 11, 2020, S&P Global Platts data showed. As of March 15, the premium was $29.19/mt and by March 23 it was $26.91/mt.

"With healthier delivered premiums, we've been selling actively and working with customers to accommodate their schedules," Baron told Platts.

"Delivered premiums have picked up on the back of some market tightness. But in general, we see the low sulfur market as balanced. Imports and exports have been fairly matched as the market has absorbed the increase in local VLSFO production over the past year."

While Fujairah met Minerva's expectations for 2020, the year when it started at the port, future growth will be aimed at customers "who are particularly focused on service quality," Baron said.

"We've been operating two barges in Fujairah, we're happy with how we've been rotating our assets but the market structure of Fujairah is such that we're not aiming to be the largest player," he said. Delivered pricing in Fujairah is often below the ex-wharf price, similar to the Singapore market before mass flow meter regulations were imposed.

"There can be large distortions between price and value in Fujairah with delivered pricing at times untethered to the cost of cargo and logistics," he said. While two bunker suppliers were forced out of the market in 2020, Fujairah "remains a fairly fragmented market with a number of local independent suppliers."

This month, Minerva began the commercial offering of its new Advanced Delivery Platform, or ADP, in Fujairah, Singapore and Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp. The digital bunkering service utilizes mass flow meters and allows customers and ship owners to have full visibility into their bunkering operations as well as into every barrel of fuel loaded and discharged from Minerva's barges.

Fujairah is "a sizable market but one in which we have more of a targeted strategy of serving customers focused on service transparency, fuel quality, and maximizing the total value received for their bunkers spend. It was logical for Fujairah to be one of the first markets in which we introduced the ADP," Baron said.

"We own fixed assets in the market so it makes sense for us to leverage those assets to best serve our customers. We expect continued growth in Fujairah but believe it will be on the back of the ADP, offering a very much differentiated service."