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Argus Media: Asian LSFO margins exceed two-year lows on high supply

Singapore low-sulphur fuel oil margins against Dubai crude values have fallen to over two-year lows, against higher inflows to the city-state and demand, according to Argus Media.




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Singapore low-sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) margins against Dubai crude values have fallen to over two-year lows, against higher inflows to the city-state and demand possibly taking a hit from recessionary fears moving forward.

15 December 2022

Margins fell to $7.82/bl on 13 December, the lowest levels since the $7.72/bl on 2 November 2020, according to Argus' assessments.

The fall is likely the result of higher low-sulphur residual inflows to Singapore from the west of Suez and Asia-Pacific this month, market participants said, estimating it to be around 2mn t. Total low-sulphur residual inflows to Singapore in December are projected to be around 2.35mn t so far, higher than the average of 2.18mn t/month in 2021, according to data from oil analytics firm Vortexa.

Incremental LSFO inflows to Singapore from Kuwait – and expectations of more to come – is likely pressuring margins as well, traders said. Kuwait's state-owned KPC sold the first 100,000t (645,000 bl) LSFO cargo from its new 615,000 b/d Al-Zour refinery for 28-29 November loading. The cargo was likely sold to BP and loaded on the tanker Ridgebury Nicholas A from Kuwait over the same dates, and Fleetmon data shows the tanker's current position is in the Malacca Strait.

Al-Zour is a topping refinery which produces LSFO mainly for local power plants, with the excess to be exported. Al-Zour is projected to produce 10-12mn t of LSFO per year when all units come online, sources close to the company said, of which around 5mn t/year will be exported after domestic power generation and bunker demand is fulfilled. Apart from the LSFO cargo, KPC has sold two 80,000t heavy fuel oil (HFO) cargoes for December-loading, with one more 80,000t cargo for 20-21 December loading in the process of being sold.

India's state-controlled BPCL also recently resumed its VLSFO exports, offering three 20,000t cargoes for November and December-loading, its first offers since March. The first cargo has likely been discharged in Singapore in end-November, according to Vortexa data.

Singapore's onshore residual fuel oil inventories were at three-week highs of 20.306mn bl in the week to 7 December, according to Enterprise Singapore data, also just slightly lower than average inventory levels in December 2021 at around 20.375mn bl. Projected higher inflows to the city-state could increase supplies to higher than year-earlier levels, depressing margins.

Market participants also noted that bunker suppliers clearing stocks with the year-end closing of books could contribute to more sales and an injection of supplies into markets, though one said that not all companies' financial years conclude in December. Traders also said that fears of an impending recession have not hit bunker demand yet but could be factored into crack and spread values from January onward.

Delivered premiums, or the price of VLSFO bunkers over cargo, have been trending upwards so far in December to an average of $36/t compared to $29/t in November as a result of tight prompt supplies, according to Argus data.

Availabilities are now improving, local traders said, although premiums are also set to spike during the festive period for prompt deliveries as is typically the case. But overall demand sentiment is increasingly turning bearish going into the new year.

"I expect demand to be down significantly in the first quarter of next year relative to this year", a local trader said.

But VLSFO bunker prices in Singapore are currently significantly lower than in competing ports in South Korea and to a lesser extent, China, which could shift some demand to the city-state.

Singapore noted a strong increase in bunker sales in November but is set to see total consumption this year decline by about 2mn t relative to 2021, to about 48mn t.

By Sarah Giam and Sammy Six


Photo credit and source: Argus Media
Published: 16 December, 2022

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Fuel Testing

Singapore: CTI-Maritec shares testing protocols ahead of mandatory enhanced bunker fuel checks

In light of mandatory enhanced checks for marine fuel delivered at Singapore port coming into effect on 1 June, CTI-Maritec shares recommendations for fuel testing protocols, primarily focused at COCs and SAN detection for bunker supply in Singapore.





Louis Reed from Unsplash

With mandatory enhanced checks for marine fuel delivered at Singapore port coming into effect on 1 June, bunker fuel testing and marine surveying business Maritec Pte Ltd (CTI-Maritec) has published a newsletter providing recommendations on vital pre-emptive fuel testing measures vessels should be taking as part of their routine fuel testing and also recommendations on optimal testing options available when deep-dive analysis is required to determine a root cause: 


On 8 February 2024 the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) issued a Port Marine Circular No 3 of 2024 regarding the implementation of enhanced testing parameters for marine fuel batches intended to be delivered as bunkers in the Port of Singapore in addition to the existing quality assurance measures.

In accordance with the MPA’s Port Marine Circular No 3 of 2024, from 1 June 2024 onwards, bunker suppliers in the Port of Singapore must ensure that:

  • Residual & Bio-residual bunker fuel do not contain Chlorinated Organic Compounds (COC) above 50mg/kg and are free from inorganic acids.
  • COC must be tested using the EN 14077 accredited test method and shall be reported in the “Certificate of Quality” (COQ) provided to receiving vessels.
  • Inorganic acids must use the ASTM D664 accredited test method as prescribed in ISO 8217 and the Strong Acid Number (SAN) (in addition to the Total Acid Number (TAN) shall be reported in the COQ (i.e. SAN = 0) provided to receiving vessels. For distillate / bio-distillate bunker marine fuel batches, SAN must be tested as per ASTM D664 test method and reported in the COQ.
  • Residual marine fuels are free from polystyrene, polypropylene & polymethacrylate. These can be tested by filtration, microscopic examination, & Fourier-Transform Infrared spectroscopy analysis.

Testing Recommendations in line with MPA Enhanced Parameters to Protect Your Vessels:

In view of the above, CTI-Maritec recommends fuel testing protocols as depicted in the chart below (as routine pre-emptive measures and/or for deep dive requirements to detect the root cause) to help safeguard vessel health.

Our recommendations are primarily focused at COCs and SAN detection for bunker supply in Singapore, while recommendations for testing Polymers are advised for requirements of reported problem cases or when highly abnormal GCMS findings of chemical compounds like Styrene, DCPD and Indene are detected.

COC & SAN GCMS testing Packages A to E

Related: Singapore: CTI-Maritec publishes whitepaper on upcoming mandatory enhanced bunker fuel tests
Related: Singapore: Marine fuel quality testing agencies applaud move for mandatory enhanced bunker fuel tests
Related: Singapore: MPA tightens testing parameters to reduce contaminated bunker fuels
Related: MPA: Glencore and PetroChina supplied contaminated bunkers to about 200 ships in the Port of Singapore


Photo credit: Louis Reed from Unsplash
Published: 29 May 2024

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VPS conducts assessment on first SIMOPS methanol bunkering op in Singapore

Firm was appointed by OCI Methanol Europe to conduct a quantity and quality assessment of a methanol bunker fuel delivery to “Eco Maestro” in Singapore.





VPS conducts assessment on first SIMOPS methanol bunkering op in Singapore

Marine fuels testing company VPS on Tuesday (28 May) said it was appointed by OCI Methanol Europe, part of the OCI Global Group, to conduct a quantity and quality assessment of a methanol fuel delivery to Eco Maestro in Singapore.

Captain Rahul Choudhuri, President Strategic Partnerships, VPS, said VPS survey experts Rafael Theseira and Muhd Nazmi Abdul Rahim were at hand during the methanol bunkering to ensure the 300 metric tonnes of methanol transfer was carried out smoothly, having been involved in the first methanol bunkering a year ago. 

Manifold Times recently reported X-Press Feeders, Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), and PSA Singapore (PSA) successfully completing the first simultaneous methanol bunkering and cargo operation (SIMOPS) in Singapore.

A X-Press Feeder container vessel, Eco Maestro, on its maiden voyage from Asia to Europe was successfully refuelled with close to 300 mt of bio-methanol by GET, a MPA licensed bunker supplier, using MT KARA

The ISCC-certified bio-methanol used for the SIMOPS was produced by green methanol producer OCI Global and supplied via GET, a ISCC-certified supplier.

Captain Choudhuri said the role of the marine, petroleum or bunker surveyor has evolved over the years in shipping and maritime affairs, but the principles have not - and that is to provide independent assessment of the quality and quantity of the product transfer. 

“This may seem obvious but this quality and quantity control is crucial to avoid commercial discrepancies, shortages or fraud,” he said.

“Safety training is critical and we have been on top of this having completed the required MPA fire-fighting course and the IBIA Methanol training course. We will work more with the Singapore Maritime Academy for trainings in future,” he added.

In August last year, Singapore-headquartered independent common carrier X-Press Feeders launched its first ever dual-fuel vessel Eco Maestro in China.

Manifold Times previously reported VPS stating it was the first company to complete a methanol bunker quantity survey (BQS) operation in Singapore on 27 July last year.

VPS was appointed by Maersk and Hong Lam Marine Pte Ltd, to undertake the very first bunker quantity survey (BQS) of a methanol fuel delivery, supplied by Hong Lam to the Maersk vessel on its maiden voyage to Europe. 

Related: First SIMOPS methanol bunkering operation completed in Singapore
Related: VPS completes quantity survey on Singapore’s first methanol bunkering op
Related: Singapore bunkering sector enters milestone with first methanol marine refuelling op
Related: X-Press Feeders launches its first methanol dual-fuel vessel “Eco Maestro” in China


Photo credit: VPS
Published: 29 May 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Gasum and Equinor ink continuation of long-term LNG bunkering agreement

Agreement builds on the success of the previous contract Gasum has had with Equinor; Gasum’s bunker vessels “Coralius”, “Kairos” and “Coral Energy” will be used for the bunkering operations.





Gasum and Equinor ink continuation of long-term LNG bunkering agreement

Nordic liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker supplier Gasum on Tuesday (28 May) said it signed a long-term contract with Norway-based global energy company Equinor whereby Gasum continues to supply LNG to Equinor’s dual-fuel chartered fleet of vessels. 

The agreement builds on the success of the previous contract Gasum has had with Equinor. Gasum’s bunker vessels Coralius, Kairos and Coral Energy will be used for the bunkering operations.

The agreement also includes additional support services such as cooling down and gassing up, which has also been a part of Gasum’s previous collaboration with Equinor. 

Gasum has organised three separate LNG cool down operations for Equinor in Skagen so far this year.

Both Gasum and Equinor have committed to sustainability goals to enable a cleaner energy future. Equinor’s ambition is to become a net-zero emissions energy company by 2050.

Using LNG in maritime transport means complete removal of sulfur oxides (SOx) and particles, and reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions of up to 85 percent as well as a reduction in CO2 emissions by at least 20%. LNG is interchangeable with liquefied biogas (LBG/bio-LNG), which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 90% compared to conventional fuel such as marine gasoil (MGO).

With LNG and bio-LNG the maritime industry can reduce emissions already today, instead of waiting for future solutions. Gasum’s strategic goal is to bring yearly seven terawatt hours (7 TWh) of renewable gas to market by 2027. Achieving this goal would mean combined carbon dioxide reduction of 1.8 million tons per year for Gasum’s customers.

Related: Equinor Energy AS extends LNG bunkering agreement with Gasum
Related: Gasum expands LNG bunkering business to ARA region through partnership with Equinor


Photo credit: Gasum
Published: 29 May 2024

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