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Delays at ports in China and other countries leading ships to skip Singapore for bunkering

19 Apr 2022

Delays at ports in China and elsewhere have prompted container and bulk ships to give Singapore, Asia’s largest refuelling hub, a miss to save time by rescheduling their stops, reported Bloomberg on Monday (18 April). 

According to preliminary data released by the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore, a total of 3,020 ships called at the city state to refuel last month, a drop of 441 from a year earlier. 

This led to bunker fuel sales falling to 3.77 million tons in March, the lowest seasonally since 2016. 

Singapore is regularly a refuelling stop for container ships passing through the Strait of Malacca as they take goods from Northeast Asia to Europe. 

Bulk carriers transporting iron ore from South America to China and tankers carrying crude oil from the Middle East to Asia also pass the port.

However, fewer ships are stopping at Singapore as congestion at ports globally prompts companies to skip the transit hub between East and West. 

Shanghai’s lockdown to contain China’s worst Covid outbreak since 2020 also worsen the situation with congestions at the world’s largest container port, as queues of vessels are building there and at other stops handling diverted shipments. 

The situation has put more pressure on already strained global supply chains.

Traders commented that hundreds of bulk ships are waiting off East China to unload raw commodities and are likely to refuel in Guangzhou or Zhoushan instead of Singapore to save on time. 

Ships are “locked up waiting in congested areas” and are burning lots of fuel, Jeremy Nixon, chief executive officer of Ocean Network Express reportedly said on April 5.

According to notices sent to customers, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co. cancelled sailings from Europe to Asia that would have included stops in Singapore. 

“Given all the circumstances, it would make more sense to bunker in China than make a call in Singapore, unless the price of bunkers is absolutely monumental,” said Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, as quoted by Bloomberg.

“It’s no secret that China wants to compete with Singapore in this business.”

He said some ships will also refuel at Fujairah in the UAE when prices are cheaper than in Singapore.

Related: Singapore: Marine fuel sales continue downward trend, falls 10.2% on year in March

Earlier Singapore bunker volumes in 2022 can be found below:

Related: Singapore: January bunker sales volume down 10.4% on year, show MPA data
Related: Bunker fuel sales at Singapore fell 15% on year in February 2022


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 19 April, 2022


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