Bunker calls were at roughly half their normal level last month. Image Credit: Ship & Bunker / Data Credit: Gibraltar Port Authority
An extended run of bad weather in Gibraltar last month sent the territory's number of bunker operations to the second-lowest level in more than a decade.
The number of vessel calls for bunkers reached 225 in Gibraltar last month, according to data from the Gibraltar Port Authority, down by 33.4% on the year and by 41.9% from January's level.
The figure is 52.6% lower than the monthly average seen over the past 12 years.
The amount of gross tonnage visiting the western side of the peninsula, where bunkering takes place, sank by 25.4% on the year and by 28.8% on the month to 11.8 million mt in February.
The number of bunker calls was almost the lowest in Gibraltar's recent history. Gibraltar's bunker calls dropped to just 209 in September, the lowest since at least 2010, when the fuel spill from the stricken bulk carrier OS 35 left bunker operations disrupted for several weeks.
Last month's decline was mostly down to weather issues, local market sources told Ship & Bunker. Gibraltar was not the only port affected, with Algeciras and Ceuta also said to be facing a decline.
"We had a prolonged bout of bad weather here which saw the port closed for an equal amount of time as happened during OS 35," one local source said.
"Only this time all Straits ports were impacted to some extent."
Another market participant pointed to wider issues affecting the bunker market in addition to the weather.
"Things tend to slow down in February due to Chinese New Year and the IBIA dinner, this year was particularly bad due to the port being closed for 11 days due to weather," the source said.
"Also reduced days in February doesn't help."