S&B ANALYSIS: Top Bunkering Firms Back Off From Business in Russia

by Jack Jordan, Managing Editor, Ship & Bunker
Thursday March 3, 2022

The largest bunkering companies in the world are starting to withdraw from deals at Russian ports and with Russia-related businesses in response to the war in Ukraine.

Of the ten firms listed in Ship & Bunker and SeaCred's Top Bunker Companies for 2022 report, four have now said they have suspended all business at Russian ports.

Bunker sales at Russian ports totalled about 7 million mt last year, or 3.2% of the global total market of 216.4 million mt in 2020 suggested by IMO data. But Russia's presence in global bunker markets is much more widespread than that, with much of the country's crude and fuel oil exports being used to produce bunker fuels for sale elsewhere.

Bunker Holding told Ship & Bunker on Wednesday that it and its subsidiaries have stopped all trading at Russian and Ukrainian ports, and suspended all trade with Russian and Russian ownership-affiliated counterparties.

"We are aware of the complications and inconveniences such a blanket ban imposes on clients and counterparties, but in these dire times we feel the need to act swiftly and decisively," a company representative said.

Monjasa has gone one step further, suspending purchases of oil products of Russian origin, as well as suspending trading activities at Russian ports, with Russian-flagged vessels and Russian-registered companies, and with vessels calling at or having called at Russian ports within the past 30 days.

"It remains vital for Monjasa to align with international sanctions, and we will continue to observe and navigate the Russia-Ukraine crisis developments and review our market response accordingly," a spokesman for the company told Ship & Bunker.

Fratelli Cosulich has stopped doing business with Russian counterparties, and Alpha Trading has suspended bunker supply at Russian and Ukrainian ports.

Minerva Bunkering is understood not to have any business at Russian ports or to have any product of Russian origin, a source said.

World Fuel Services did not respond to a request for comment. Last week CFO Ira Birns said the firm had exposure of a few million dollars on the marine side in Russia, and that it would be reviewing its business there.

"Obviously we're monitoring this situation, just as you are, considering the escalation overnight, and we're being very careful about managing any additional credit from today going forward," Birns said in a call with analysts on February 24.

Cockett Marine Oil is also considering the situation before commenting further.

"We are in constant contact with our global working partners, observe changes in legislation that have an impact on our trade engagement and adjust where necessary," a company representative told Ship & Bunker on Wednesday.

TFG Marine is also reviewing its position further.

"We continue to closely monitor the situation and ensure any transactions we undertake comply with applicable regulatory requirements and sanctions," a spokesperson for the company said.

The spokesperson also noted a statement from TFG Marine investor Trafigura on Wednesday, in which the commodity trading firm said it had frozen investments in Russia.

Company representatives at Peninsula and Integr8 have yet to comment on the situation.

A representative of Maersk Oil Trading, which handles the bunker needs of container shipping giant AP Moller Maersk as well as some third parties, said it had halted sales at Russian ports as Maersk vessels have stopped calling there.

Some smaller bunker firms have also halted work in Russia. Brokerage Liberty Marine Fuels was one of the first companies to do so, saying on Tuesday that it had stopped involvement in deals at Russian ports until further notice.

PMG Holding has also withdrawn from deals in Russia, a representative told Ship & Bunker on Thursday.

"PMG did not have any Russian clients and trading activity with Russian ports has been marginal, so closing all trade with entities with a Russian nexus was easy and had no effect on the business," the representative said.