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ENGINE: East of Suez Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

31 Mar 2021

The following article regarding regional bunker fuel availability outlooks for East of Suez ports with special attention to availability in Singapore has been provided by online marine fuels procurement platform ENGINE for publication on Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times:

30 March 2021

Prompt supply remains tight in several key East of Suez bunker ports this week.

While Fujairah’s bunker market has mostly recovered from production issues two weeks ago, supply is now tighter as blending components have been held up in delayed tankers at the Suez Canal.

The cargo delay has reduced several of Fujairah’s suppliers’ ability to blend bunker fuel products. A bunker supplier has been without blendstocks and unable to quote prices for near-term deliveries. Another supplier was only able to load just over half the volume it had intended on a bunker barge because of the delays.

Two local refiners produce bunker fuels for supply in the port of Fujairah, where a total of 622,000 mt of bunker fuels was delivered in February. These two refiners also rely on imported blendstocks, but to a lesser extent than bunker suppliers without local production.

One of the refineries experienced significant production issues earlier this month, which crimped VLSFO availability and boosted Fujairah’s prices against other ports. Bunker fuel output from the refinery has now mostly recovered, according to local sources.

Availability of VLSFO has improved to bring Fujairah’s lead times down from 11 days two weeks ago, to around six days now. LSMGO stems also need to be booked around six days ahead to ensure delivery, while HSFO380 stems are particularly tight and require around 12 days of lead time in the UAE port.

Residual fuel oil inventory levels remain below the five-year average in Singapore. A considerable increase in exports from January and February has contributed to drawing the port’s stocks this month. Suppliers in the bunkering hub had built stocks in the first three weeks of March, before a doubling in exports last week pulled the inventories down 2% to 22.31 million bbls, Enterprise Singapore data shows.

Singapore’s middle distillate stocks dropped by another 1% last week, to 13.81 million bbls – their lowest levels since July last year.

Prompt deliveries of VLSFO are tight in Singapore, where lead times of around 7-8 days are recommended. Lead times are slightly shorter than last week’s 7-10 days, however, as some suppliers have better availability. LSMGO stems need to be booked about one day earlier than last week, with lead times now at 5-7 days. 

Supply logistics can be a bottleneck in Singapore, with barge tank space can be particularly limited for HSFO380. This has kept lead times for the high sulphur product at 12 days or more for months.

There should be sufficient product stored in Singapore to meet a potential uptick in demand from eastbound vessels delayed by the Suez Canal blockage, but there has not yet been any noticeable increase in enquiries from these vessels, sources say. Demand has been rather muted in both Singapore and Chinese ports at the start of the week, following lower flat prices and stronger demand last week.

VLSFO and LSMGO can generally be procured at a shorter notice in Zhoushan and Shanghai, where the two grades are in ample supply among several suppliers and require around three days of lead times. Lead times for HSFO380 stems vary depending on the supplier, ranging from seven days to 11 days ahead.

Tokyo Bay remains congested with pressure on barge schedules this week. A supplier’s berth has undergone maintenance this month, limiting the port’s space for vessels to bunker in. Availability is expected to improve after the maintenance is scheduled to end in April.

VLSFO and LSMGO have become considerably tighter in South Korea’s southern ports, which include Busan. Lead times have increased from 3-5 days last week to eight days now. Availability of HSFO380 stems depend on barge availability for specific days, as only 1-2 suppliers offer the grade in South Korean ports.

Ongoing maintenance work at two local refineries has crimped resupply volumes to Far East Russian ports. Only one supplier has LSMGO available and limited volumes have pushed Russian prices for the grade up and above those in competing South Korean ports.

VLSFO, which is normally priced significantly lower in Far East Russian ports than in South Korea, has also moved within a closer price range of South Korea’s southern ports. HSFO380 is still priced lower in Russia, but limited resupply has narrowed discounts to South Korean ports.

Photo credit: ENGINE
Published: 31 March, 2021

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