BP Marine continues to build its strategic footprint in Australia and New Zealand despite the impact from the coronavirus pandemic, Anthony Tolani, General Manager BP Marine ANZ, told S&P Global Platts on June 11.
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This comes as some industry sources said that BP's recent move to strengthen its presence in the New Zealand market, after it inked an agreement with the Ports of Auckland, was most likely a way to mitigate the impact from Australia's falling bunker volumes as cruise tourism has been badly hit.
Australia, ranking among those with the highest penetration of any cruise market globally outside the US, has seen its bunker fuel consumption plummet due to restrictions on entry and sailings of cruise ships, pressuring the country's refiners further as they also grapple with demand constraints for other oil products due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
"COVID-19 has had a huge impact on demand in the region...The largest impact has been on the cruise industry, which was banned across various countries and is yet to be lifted in ANZ," Tolani said.
"However, BP Marine manages the complete end-to-end supply chain in this region and we see the ANZ region as a whole, in the same way our customers do," he added.
VLSFO sales have dropped between 30% and 50% as cruises were forced to cease operations there from March last year to curb the spread of the pandemic, market sources told Platts separately.
The demand for HSFO bunker fuel has also "evaporated" after cruise ships fitted with scrubbers suspended operations, an Australia-based bunker trader said.
Auckland port secures VLSFO
In late May, Ports of Auckland said that its subsidiary Seafuels and BP had reached an agreement to use the bunker barge 'Awanuia' to deliver MARPOL-compliant VLSFO and marine gasoil to the marine market in the Auckland port.
This agreement will help ensure New Zealand is able to meet its international obligations under Annex VI of the MARPOL convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, by providing international and domestic vessels calling New Zealand with MARPOL compliant fuels, it said.
New Zealand joined MARPOL in 1998 and is due to sign up to Annex VI from late 2021.