Qatar Petroleum, state energy firm, started fuel-oil bunkering services for all vessels calling on Qatari ports on 19 June, following two weeks of severed diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia and UAE, which temporarily banned access to its bunkering facilities.
“This vessel-borne fuelling facility is available for all vessels lifting any Qatari seaborne imports or exports. The bunkering operations have commenced successfully after meeting all international maritime and safety standards,” QP said in a statement.
Qatar Petroleum also announced that the first of several shipments carrying fuel oil (for bunkering purposes) has arrived at its Ras Laffan anchorage.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar early June, accusing it of provoking regional unrest, supporting terrorism and getting too close to Iran, all of which Doha denies.
UAE’s port authorities last week eased a ban imposed at the onset of the diplomatic crisis, which restricted all vessels calling to or from Qatar from loading or unloading on its ports – including the most convenient fuel bunkering facility in Fujairah.
Despite the restriction being eased last week to now only vessels with a Qatari flag, shipping companies remain uncertain whether they can secure bunker fuel at Fujairah.
Other options include Salalah in Oman and Bandar Abbas in Iran to meet bunker demand, but they come with their own limitations such as limited fuel type and higher cost at Salalah and the lingering US sanctions on Iran.
“This is a first, and important, step towards self-reliance for fuel-oil bunkering solutions for all vessels,” Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, the president and CEO of Qatar Petroleum said.
“Due to the unfortunate ongoing crisis, many of our clients were impacted by regional decisions limiting their ability to meet their commitments in a timely and cost-effective manner. We took it upon ourselves to assist our clients overcome this challenge by introducing measures to ensure the continuous and reliable energy supplies.”
Potential customer requests for bunkering and operations will be managed in collaboration with WOQOD’s affiliate, WOQOD Marine, which is responsible for the sale and delivery of fuel oil utilizing ship to ship transfer operations, QP said.
“This temporary ship-to-ship fuel bunkering facility will meet our clients’ safety and commercial expectations, and will continue until a permanent solution is implemented. Qatar Petroleum is fast-tracking required studies and investments to provide independent, safe, and reliable bunkering capabilities, Al-Kaabi concluded.
Last week, QP signed with Shell to develop liquefied natural gas (LNG) marine fuelling – or bunkering – infrastructure at strategic shipping locations across the globe.
QP said it will be catering for the majority of Qatar’s LNG vessel fleet and provide the service to other clients including Muntajat, Hamad Port, and potential Free-On-Board (FOB) clients of Qatar who load products such as Crude Oil, LPG, Condensate and Naphtha.