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S Korea bunkering at south, southeast coast resume as weather conditions improve

South Korean ports and terminals located along the south and southeast coastline of the country have reopened, with bunkering operations back to normal, trade sources Thursday said.

Adverse weather conditions from the beginning of this week had forced South Korean refiners SK Innovation, GS Caltex, S-Oil Corp. and Hyundai Oilbank to halt bunkering operations and close terminals, with ports such as Yosu, Busan and Ulsan affected as well.

The multi-day closure has resulted in a backlog of orders, with many vessels heard to have been waiting for weather conditions to clear.

“It [the closure] was a headache for me, but the weather is OK now,” a trader Thursday said.

“The problem is there is congestion due to closures at several ports, and many orders are pending,” another trader Thursday said.

Market sources said that as of late Wednesday, the majority of South Korean refiners were showing earliest delivery dates for bunker fuel on March 24, with the backlog of orders expected to take around a day to clear.

“Normally, one day [to clear the backlog] is fine here, because most of the barges managed to load bunker fuel before the terminals closed, so they have been on standby,” a trader Thursday said.

Despite the multi-day closure, some traders said they did not expect the halt in operations to have much of an impact on the South Korean bunker fuel market.

“Demand is a bit slow so only earliest delivery dates were affected, price-wise, sellers are still interested to sell,” one trader Thursday said.

Still, other market sources said they expected to see some price support. “As demand is normal and suppliers have many pending orders, it has strong support at the moment,” another trader said.

At the Asian close Wednesday, 380CST bunker fuel for delivery at South Korea was assessed at $385/mt, down $4.50/mt from Tuesday.

Source: Platts

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