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Port Louis’ bunker trade is a key plank in the country’s export sector ©carrotmadman6

Indian Ocean’s rising star

After a three-year flat spell, last year was a bumper one for the Mauritian maritime economy, boosting hopes that the country can become a genuine hub for shipping in the Indian Ocean, reports John Rickards

According to the last batch of annual figures, cargo volume through Mauritius was up 6.3% to 7.3m tonnes, with the bulk of the increase coming from liquid bulk and container transshipment traffic. And these came despite stagnant overall vessel call figures. A drop in box ship numbers was made up for by LPG and products traffic as Petredec Mauritius brought its import-export business up to full steam.

On the back of this strong uptick in cargo traffic, the island nation’s bunker industry enjoyed a matching increase in business, with a record 336,914 tonnes of fuel delivered.

The increase came as the barge fleet operating out of Port Louis increased sharply, and despite only a marginal increase in bunkering calls to 1,799. Over 60% of ships calling at Mauritius take on fuel. However, bunker-only calls fell over 10% and the market’s suppliers must be wary of



The Mauritian Ports Authority remains cautious too, warning that improvements in the South African bunker market, previously plagued by intermittent local refinery supply issues, might affect the country’s bunker market across the current year. The MPA wouldn’t be drawn as to whether there was any indication that this had happened at the time of going to press.


Mauritian cargo and bunker surveyors De Chermont & Partners Ltd remained bullish in conversation with World Bunkering when it spoke to operations manager Capt. Laval Lam, the managing director and other members of the Blanche de Chermont team.


“As marine surveyors, we have witnessed a surge in the bunkering sector. This confirms that the number of ships bunkering at Port Louis has been increasing and Mauritius is on the right path in her development into a global bunkering hub,” DCPL said.


“Mauritius was once known as the Star and Key of the Indian Ocean due to its strategic geographical position. It was used as a stopover for food and water  eplenishment on the way to the Far East before the opening of the Suez Canal.

The commitment of the government to developing the

marine economy and attracting shipping for bunker replenishment is on good track; discounted port tariffs are now offered for bunker operations. Port Louis is rapidly developing into a bunker hub and is regaining its Star and Key status.

Ships on the East–West trade routes are now stopping over, mainly for stemming bunkers.”


Survey work was vital to establishing the country as a bunker hub, the company said, and DCPL was looking to expand on the broad range of services it already offers. “The quality of a survey is very important for accurate, reliable and valid results. DCPL, being ISO 9001-certifed, has established procedures to strengthen our business processes, as well as members of our team being regularly trained by recognised overseas maritime institutions to keep up with new technologies and ensure that the end result is always greater customer satisfaction.”


DCPL continued: “A business organisation needs to expand both horizontally and vertically in order to face competition and survive. DCPL is no exception. We are exploring new avenues to consolidate our business enterprise and take it to the next level. We intend in the very near future to add new services to our mix by expanding into new avenues.”


The Mauritian government is striving to keep the economy growing, however, and with it the country’s maritime sector. The government’s “ocean economy” project had something of a false start last year when a key working session with the World Bank launching a dossier written by Raffaeolo Cevigni was cancelled. However the responsibility for boosting the maritime sector has now shifted to the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Office itself.

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