* Region's largest bunkering hub shuns Qatari vessels
* Affected shippers may face delays, higher costs
* Norsk Hydro says aluminium shipments blocked from UAE port
By Roslan Khasawneh
SINGAPORE, June 6 The costs of Qatari energy and
commodity exports are likely to rise as the United Arab
Emirates' ban on Qatari vessels cuts the ships off from the
region's main refuelling port, forcing ships to sail further for
fuel or pay higher prices.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, along with Egypt, Yemen and
Bahrain, on Monday cut diplomatic ties with Qatar amid
accusations the country supported terrorists. The Arab allies
are applying many economic pressure points, including barring
Qatari flagged ships from entering their waters.
Around half a dozen oil, chemical and liquefied natural gas
(LNG) tankers coming from Qatar have left UAE waters or halted
in the open ocean instead of docking in the UAE or Saudi Arabia
as planned, according to shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon.
Qatar is the world's biggest LNG exporter, sending shipments
of the fuel used in power generation to key users in Japan,
China and India, and the country also exports about 620,000
barrel per day of oil, among the smallest Middle East oil
However, vessels leaving Qatari ports typically refuel ahead
of their voyages at the UAE port of Fujairah, the Gulf's largest
ship-fuel or bunkering port. That is leaving shipowners and
charters scrambling to plan the logistics for their vessels.
"It's a big mess this morning," said a Singapore-based
The Britanis super-tanker, capable of carrying up to 2
million barrels of oil, was parked in Fujairah's anchorage zone
for the past week, but since Monday moved to just beyond
Fujairah's port limits, the data on Eikon showed.
Lying near the Strait of Hormuz, which ships pass on their
way to customers in Asia, the United States, or Europe, Fujairah
is one of the world's most important ports for the global energy
market. Besides refuelling, vessels also merge cargoes with
those of other tankers before sending blended supplies to their
Ships looking to fuel in Fujairah may incur delays and
higher costs after being forced to divert to nearby regional
ports, or to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, and even as far as
Singapore, shippers and traders said.
"Some of the affected vessels sailing out of the Gulf will
probably have to look towards Iraq, Iran, or Oman for bunkers,
however, it depends on the political stance of those countries,”
said commodities broker Matt Stanley at Freight Investor
Services in Dubai.
Blocking the Qatari vessels could displace up to 25 percent
of the between 800,000 and 900,000 tonnes of marine fuels sold
in Fujairah each month, said two trade sources familiar with the
Because of the small size of its oil exports, Qatari crude
tends to be co-loaded onto tankers along with other regional
crudes to make the voyage economical. That process may also be
disrupted because of the ban.
While the UAE is clear in banning both Qatari-flagged
vessels and ships coming from Qatar, it was not immediately
certain whether Saudi Arabia is taking as strong of a position.
The Aramco-owned supertanker Asian Progress V, which is
under a Singaporean flag and carrying Qatar Land crude, remains
berthed at Saudi Arabia's Ras Tanura Abu Sa'fah berth where
Saudi Arab Medium crude loads.
Oil-pricing agency S&P Global Platts on Tuesday said it was
reviewing the use of Qatari Al-Shaheen crude in its oil price
assessments because of the port ban.
Besides disrupting energy exports, the UAE ban on Qatari
ships is impacting aluminium exports. Norsk Hydro on Tuesday
said Qatari metal exports that typically were reloaded on larger
ships at the UAE port of Jebel Ali have been blocked amid the
(Additional reporting by Jessica Jaganathan and Mark Tay;
Editing by Christian Schmollinger)