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Argus Media: South Korean bunker prices soar on supply shortfall

Refining company Hyundai Oilbank knows they’re the only ones that can still offer spot supplies for May so prices are through the roof, says one trader.

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Several South Korean refineries are unable to deliver bunker supplies for the rest of this month, leading to sharply higher prices relative to other parts of the region.

19 May, 2022

The price of South Korean very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) hit a record premium to Singapore values of $220/t on 18 May, having risen from more typical levels of about $20-25/t since 11 May, according to Argus data. 

The shortage of bunker supply in South Korea is so severe that yesterday VLSFO there was assessed almost at parity to low-sulphur marine gasoil (LSMGO), a premium bunker product that usually commands a much higher price. Argus assessed South Korean VLSFO at $1,164/t yesterday and LSMGO at $1,185/t.

South Korea's refining sector is dominated by four companies — S-Oil, SK energy, GS Caltex and Hyundai Oilbank. Of those, only Hyundai Oilbank is understood to still have spot supplies on offer for May delivery. The others have either run out or are being hampered by outages.

S-Oil, which operates the 669,000 b/d Onsan refinery in Ulsan, is heard to be having some issues with its residue fluid catalytic cracking (RFCC) unit, although this could not be confirmed. Market sources told Argus that the refinery requires maintenance, and this has led to a decline in output. 

Meanwhile, SK Energy's 840,000 b/d refinery in Ulsan is understood to have been under maintenance for a while, with the company only offering product for June delivery onwards. And GS Caltex has reportedly sold out of VLSFO for May.

"Hyundai know they're the only ones that can still offer spot supplies for May so prices are through the roof," said one trader.

Most of the bunkering taking place in South Korea at the moment is therefore restricted to term volumes. The constraints on VLSFO production from S-Oil and SK Energy, also partly connected to an interruption in supply of low-sulphur crude, is not expected to ease until the end of May or early June.

South Korea is one of the largest bunker supply hubs and producers of VLSFO in Asia-Pacfic, with most bunkering taking place in the country's southern ports of Ulsan and Busan. 

No official data on the country's bunker fuel demand are available, but December 2021 total sales were estimated by various market sources at 800,000-850,000t, of which about 590,000t was VLSFO.

By Sammy Six and Maiko Nakashima

 

Photo credit and source: Argus Media
Published: 20 May, 2022

 

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Technology

SMW 2024: MPA partners with S&P Global and Bunkerchain in digital ship identity

MPA signed a MoU with S&P Global and Bunkerchain to use Singapore as test bed to trial and pilot use of digital ship identity in maritime applications such as digital port clearance and digital bunkering.

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SMW 2024: MPA partners with S&P Global and Bunkerchain in digital ship identity

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Tuesday (16 April) announced it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with S&P Global Market Intelligence and Bunkerchain to pilot the use of digital ship identity in the republic. 

The signing took place at the ‘Accelerating Digitalisation and Decarbonisation Conference’ at Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) on the same day.

The parties agreed to use the Port of Singapore as the test bed to trial and pilot the use of digital ship identity in maritime applications such as digital port clearance and digital bunkering.

Digital identity refers to the unique representation of an entity in the digital world, which consists of various attributes and data that distinguishes it from others.

“Electronic transactions may be vulnerable to various risks as such identity fraud and data integrity breaches,” MPA said.

“Digital ship identity plays a crucial role in making electronic transactions more secure, trusted, and efficient in the maritime sector. When deployed in tandem with electronic signatures, these digital technologies will eliminate the need for physical ship stamps and wet ink signatures, and accelerate the transition towards a truly digital, secure, and paperless operations.”

MPA, together with Esri Singapore, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Institute of High Performance Computing and the Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore, also developed a digital twin proof-of-concept of a methanol bunkering leak incident. 

“The digital twin runs on an interactive web application that integrates weather and ocean current predictions and AIS data to present visualisation of chemical plume dispersions in the event of a bunkering incident involving alternative fuels,” it said.  

“The capability can help enhance planners’ understanding of the behaviour of the plume clouds under various conditions and guide the development of safety and incident response plans and standards.”

The port authority also announced a collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company, to support the maritime industry’s digital transformation and green transition. 

MPA will tap on AWS services including cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital twins to enhance the industry’s efficiency, safety, and sustainability outcomes. 

As part of the collaboration, MPA and AWS will develop the maritime Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI–ML) Digital Hub, the first-of-its-kind in ASEAN region. 

The AI–ML Digital Hub will leverage AWS cloud to enable the maritime industry to pilot innovative AI and generative AI (GenAI) capabilities to trial on the Green and Digital Shipping Corridors, optimising routes and fuel consumption, carbon emissions accounting, and just-in-time arrivals to help ships operate more efficiently, reduce greenhouse gases emissions, and enhance safety of operations.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between Mr David Foo, Assistant Chief Executive (Operations Technology), MPA and Ms Elsie Tan, Country Manager, Worldwide Public Sector, Singapore, AWS.

Related: SMW2024: 18th Singapore Maritime Week opens with ‘Actions meet Ambition’ theme
Related: SMW 2024: MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels
Related: SMW 2024: Singapore-Rotterdam Green and Digital Shipping Corridor partners to implement first-mover pilot projects

 

Photo credit: Bunkerchain
Published: 16 April 2024

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Bunker Fuel

SMW 2024: Singapore is preparing port for multi-fuel future, says Transport Minister.

‘Our industry has brought in new bunker tankers capable of bunkering higher blends of biofuel and methanol, paving the way for greater emissions reduction for vessels,’ says Chee Hong Tat.

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SMW 2024: Singapore is preparing port for a multi-fuel future, says Transport Minister.

Singapore has moved decisively to ensure energy and fuel resilience as international shipping looks to alternative fuels to meet global decarbonisation targets, said Singapore’s Minister for Transport Mr Chee Hong Tat on Monday (15 April).

In his speech at the Singapore Maritime Week (SMW) 2024 opening ceremony, he said Singapore is preparing its port for a multi-fuel future.

“Our industry has brought in new bunker tankers capable of bunkering higher blends of biofuel and methanol, paving the way for greater emissions reduction for vessels,” he said.

“MPA has also issued Expressions of Interest (EOI) for the alternative fuels ammonia and methanol over this past year.

“For our ammonia EOI, we have shortlisted six consortiums, and are studying their comprehensive proposals for the supply of ammonia for bunkering and power generation in Singapore.”

Chee added reliability and resilience also mean that Singapore upholds the highest standards for safety, efficiency, and quality. 

“Enterprise Singapore, through the Singapore Standards Council, has been working closely with industry partners to introduce national standards to support the digitalisation of bunkering supply chain documentation, as well as on methanol and ammonia bunkering.”

“As a major maritime and bunkering hub, Singapore is committed to continue serving as a trusted node for international shipping.”

Chee said this when elaborating on Singapore’s focus to grow the republic as a hub for reliable and resilient maritime operations, one of three important areas the republic will prioritise on growing its maritime sector. 

The other two areas are to grow Maritime Singapore as a hub for maritime innovation and as a hub for maritime talent development.

“Looking ahead, we expect some turbulence along the way, but we are confident that the global maritime industry will continue to grow,” Chee said.

“And Singapore as a hub port and International Maritime Centre can benefit from this growth and the opportunities it brings, including in emerging areas like digitalisation and decarbonisation.”

However, Chee warned Singapore shouldn’t take its success for granted and to continue improving productivity and competitiveness while staying relevant to changing requirements to be able to meet the needs of local and international stakeholders. 

“But we must not rest on our laurels, or make the mistake of thinking that these positive outcomes will happen on auto-pilot. A rising tide can indeed lift all boats, but the boat and its crew can only benefit if they are well-prepared when the water level rises,” he said.

Related: SMW2024: 18th Singapore Maritime Week opens with ‘Actions meet Ambition’ theme
Related: SMW 2024: MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels
Related: SMW 2024: Singapore-Rotterdam Green and Digital Shipping Corridor partners to implement first-mover pilot projects
RelatedSMW 2023: EOI for ammonia power generation and bunkering closing by 30 April
Related: Singapore gets its first dedicated methanol bunkering tanker “MT MAPLE”
Related: Singapore: Vitol Bunkers takes delivery of specialised biofuel bunker barge “Marine Future”

 

Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 16 April 2024

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Biofuel

Banle Energy arranges B24 bunkering services for “YM Utility” in Yantian

Transaction supports the first B24 biofuel supply in Shenzhen and Yang Ming’s inaugural B24 biofuel bunkering supply in China, says firm.

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Banle Energy arranges B24 bunkering services for “YM Utility” in Yantian

Banle Energy International Limited, a subsidiary of CBL International Limited, on Monday (15 April) announced the arrangement of B24 biofuel bunkering services for Yang Ming's vessel YM Utility at a port in Yantian, Shenzhen on 14 April.

“By providing Yang Ming with our B24 biofuel bunkering services, this transaction supports the first B24 biofuel supply in Shenzhen and Yang Ming's inaugural B24 biofuel bunkering supply in China,” the firm in a social media post. 

“As a company actively promoting the use of biofuels, we are making a significant contribution to the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from international shipping.”

“The B24 biofuel blend, as indicated by a study, is projected to reduce approximately 20% of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions when compared with conventional fuel oil.”

As the firm focuses on expanding its operations in Europe, the firm added it will continue to forge strategic partnerships and explore new opportunities to provide efficient and reliable solutions.

 

Photo credit: Banle Energy International Limited
Published: 16 April 2024

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