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Flash Floods Disrupt Operations At Middle East’s Largest Oil Bunkering Hub

Unusually heavy rains and flash floods in the UAE forced the closure overnight of one of the biggest oil bunkering ports in the world, with operations slowly resuming on Thursday but disruptions still hindering bunkering. 

At the time of writing, Bloomberg reports that while the port has started to reopen, some berths remained out of commission. 

The military was called in to lead rescue operations overnight across the province of Fujairah, as all operations at the port of Fujairah came to a standstill amid the emergency weather incident. More than 800 people have been rescued so far and 3,800 have been relocated to emergency shelters, according to MSN, citing government statements.  

The port, on the eastern coast of the UAE, is a strategic gateway to the Strait of Hormuz, which handles some one-fifth of all global oil shipping via sea. The port’s deep water channel for large oil vessels makes it the main bunkering hub in the region.

Argus reported GPS Chemoil as announcing force majeure overnight on Wednesday, citing the submergence under flood waters of its pumphouse. Argus also quoted a bunker trader as saying the port was completely closed and that he expected further delays and a backlog in deliveries. 

This was the highest level of rainfall in the emirate in nearly three decades, with meteorologists recording 221.8 mm of rainfall, while localized video footage showed many parts of the province submerged. 

The port of Fujairah, which has undergone many bunkering upgrades in recent years, has also been plagued with long delays. Those delays have more recently led some exporters from the region to reroute their cargoes for Oman and Iraq in order to shave days off the wait time, according to Gcaptain. 

In June, Fujairah reported its lowest level of marine fuel sales volumes in four months, down 2.8% from a year ago, and down over 13% from May 2022. 

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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