The bunker market is attracting new players, thanks to its ideal location
The strategic location of Malta gives the island country a clear advantage when it comes to supplying bunkers, situated as it is right on the main shipping lanes though the Mediterranean. There are now four suppliers of residual fuel and several others that are so far just selling MGO.
Bunkering has, however, had a somewhat chequered history in Malta. Shell International built a storage facility at Marasa in 1960, which it ran until 1975 when the facility was taken over by the Maltese government. It was passed on to Sea Malta Company in September 1982 when Mediterranean Offshore Bunkering Company Ltd was established. MOBC operated as a physical supplier for 20 years, and ran a fleet of bunker barges, until it was again taken over by the government from Sea Malta and Enemalta Corporation in 2002.
The mid-1990s saw the development of the oil terminal at Marsaxlokk on the island, operated by Oiltanking. The facility has four berths, the largest able to take ships of up 120,000 dwt.
Falzon Group’s subsidiary San Lucian Oil Company is one of the main suppliers and can deliver both high and low-sulphur fuel oil of up to 380 cSt by barge. The company also operates the country’s only waste oil recycling facility.
Carmelo Caruana Co. Ltd has been offering ship-to-ship transfer services off Malta since the 1980s. A spokesperson told World Bunkering: “In recent years we have partnered with SPT Marine UK to consolidate our position in this field. In 2009 alone, Carmelo Caruana handled over 200 ship-to-ship operations, successfully transferring over 6.5 million tonnes of product. We have invested in our very own STS base, within Valletta port, where we operate our own equipment, transfer hoses and four sets of Yokohoma fenders, including jumbo sized fenders. We are confident of our reputation in this sector and are continuing to invest in the resources required to ensure continuance of our high standards of service.”
Physical supplier Island Bunker Oils was set up in 2002 as a joint venture between top Maltese entrepreneurs involved in the marine industry. The company operates three bunker barges and can make deliveries both within and outside Maltese territorial waters. Vessels can also be supplied ex pipeline or by tank truck.
The company leases facilities at the Mediterranean Offshore Bunkering Company in Marsa as required and also leases storage at Oiltanking in Marsaxlokk.
Ship’s agent Sullivan Shipping’s chairman John Sullivan told World Bunkering that Malta’s location ensured that the island was a cost effective place to take bunkers, offshore or alongside. He noted that Malta was well placed to meet demand for low-sulphur fuel as it was widely used domestically. Malta’s favorable location has attracted a couple of new players to the market recently. The 1,600 cu m Karol Wojtyla is now on station supplying both residual and distillate fuels for Cassar Fuels Malta, which had previously specialised in MGO.
Meanwhile US-based independent marine fuel supplier Bunker Supplies Malta Ltd have set up a joint venture to supply MGO in Valletta, Marsaxlokk, and offshore Malta.
“We are very excited about this expansion of our company into a strategically important bunkering location like Malta,” said John Canal, president of Bunkers International. “With our excellent partners in Malta we can deliver high-quality gas oil products and superior service and support that meet the needs of our customers calling on Malta from the container, cruise, and specialised services markets. We have successfully operated a similar joint venture in Colombia, South America for the last 12 years and currently are the largest bunker supplier in the Colombia market, a success we hope to repeat in Malta with BSM.“
BSM is run by Mr Frank Sammut, who worked for MOBC for over 25 years. He said: “We are very optimistic about this new venture. Combining our supply expertise and knowledge of the local market and Bunkers International’s global footprint will result in a high-quality product being delivered to our mutual customers.”
Added 01 June 2010 in the category: Summer 2010