BP's bunker barge the Amber II has now also been detained. Image Credit: BP
The bunker supply outage in Algoa Bay amid a tax dispute with South Africa's government has worsened this week, with a third major supplier now affected.
As Ship & Bunker reported last week, two out of the three bunker suppliers at Algoa Bay -- TFG Marine and Minerva Bunkering -- were forced to halt bunker operations at the port after the South African Revenue Service (SARS) detained five vessels including bunker barges earlier in the month.
The third supplier, BP, was reported to be unaffected but low on product until the end of the month.
But BP's bunker barge the Amber II has now also been detained, a source familiar with the situation told Ship & Bunker on Wednesday.
BP's VLSFO and MGO supply at Algoa Bay has been shut down as a result, Dumisani Xulu, the company's marine manager in South Africa, wrote in a note to customers this week.
"There is disruption of bunker supplies in the Algoa Bay Anchorage, Port Elizabeth and Coega," Xulu said in the note.
"The disruption is also affecting our VLSFO and DMA supplies at the above-stated locations.
"As an alternative, you may take up HSFO at Algoa Bay Anchorage, Port Elizabeth and Coega.
"Currently, we are not able to estimate the duration of the disruption but will continue to monitor the situation and keep you apprised of any developments in this regard."
Algoa Bay is currently the country's largest bunkering location, with an estimated 50,000-100,000 mt/month of sales. The removal of South Africa as an option for ships travelling around Africa would have profound consequences for global shipping.
SARS wrote to local shipping industry representatives in July to announce the findings of a longstanding investigation into the Algoa Bay bunker supply market.
The authority's accusation is that marine fuel cargoes have been delivered from other countries into floating storage facilities off Algoa Bay and sold on as bunkers without first having been properly registered and taxed as imports, rather than transshipped product.
It remains unclear whether this accusation is also now being levelled at BP.