PORT LOUIS, MAURITIUS
Having looked at two of South Africa’s major ports ahead of the new IMO 2020 sulphur cap regulation we turn now to the island of Mauritius. The country that is famous for its white sandy beaches and sky-blue waters. In 2018 alone it attracted over 1.3million tourists from around the world. However, Mauritius seems determined to develop other avenues of its immense potential.
Port Louis is the capital city of Mauritius. Furthermore, it is the islands main harbour and the only official point of entry and exit for seafaring vessels. Mauritius is located along one of the world’s largest ocean routes being the East/West trade through the Cape of Good Hope. Recognizing this the Mauritian government is pushing to boost their nations appeal to the bunkering world. The Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA) are creating incentives to attract bunkering business to Port Louis. For one, the State Trading Corporation (STC), a trading arm of the Government of Mauritius entrusted with the import of essential commodities which include all petroleum products, no longer has a margin on its transfer price to bunker operators. There is also a gradual shift to direct imports by oil companies instead of STC imports. Further incentive is that fuels consumed within port limits by vessels that are in the engaged in the supply of bunker fuel are VAT exempt and receive an excise duty extension. Lastly the MPA has allocated land in the port area for the construction of storage facilities headed up by private promoters. These facilities will take the onshore storage at Port Louis from 145,000 tonnes to 200,000 tonnes. This sort of increased storage will allow for a greater flow through of ship traffic and so aid Mauritius in their goal to become more of a key stop for ships passing through the Indian ocean.
For Port Louis to become such a port they would need contracts with bunker companies so as to guarantee the supply of fuel to ships. This can be tough but due to the way Mauritius have approached the matter, attracting bunker business should be much easier. It certainly seems to have been enough for Stonewin Capital LP. The company is a distributor of petroleum and other fuel products. Established in 2014 the company holds offices in the United Kingdom, Dubai and Latvia. In 2015 they began operating as a supplier of bunker fuels to the government sector. Today, with business in Europe, North-East America, Panama, the Caribbean, West and South Africa, they stand as one of the leaders in their field. However, this means that their business was with the governments of different countries, suppling military bases and navy vessels. That changed on the 2nd of January 2019 when Stonewin Capital LP opened their first physical bunker operation in Port Louis. This marks the beginning of their venture into the commercial bunkering sector as they look to expand operations.
Morten Hoxer is a marine fuels trader at Stonewin Capital LP and heads up the growth of the company in the fuel supply sector. When asked why Stonewin Capital LP chose Mauritius Hoxer said: “It (Mauritius) is a niche market- it is not a traditional bunker hub. It is a good location for safe bunkering, serving vessels on east/west routes.”
The company have announced that they will be using the double-hulled bunker barge MT Hakkasan to deliver marine gas oil (MGO). They will be doing so under the company’s own Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) through a well controlled supply chain. As far as IMO 2020 is concerned Stonewin Capital LP have stated that the 0.5% very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) will be in supply from 1 May next year, along with the MGO already available. Given the proactive approach and keenness for Mauritius to grow bunkering business it seems as though they are on track. The involvement of Stonewin Capital LP is a big step in that it is very possibly a sign of what and who is to come should the islanders persist. It is looking like busy times ahead for the Mauritius and her Port Louis.