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ENGINE: East of Suez Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

22 Mar 2023

The following article regarding regional bunker fuel availability outlook for the East of Suez region has been provided by online marine fuels procurement platform ENGINE for publication on Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times:

21 March, 2023

  • Fuel oils remain tight in Singapore
  • Demand improves in Zhoushan
  • Several ports face weather disruptions



Bunker demand has been average in Singapore over the past two weeks, sources say. VLSFO and HSFO availability remains tight for prompt stems in the port, with lead times of 7-9 days recommended – almost the same as last week.

LSMGO availability is normal in the port. Lead times of 3-5 days have barely changed since last week.

Singapore’s residual fuel oil stocks have averaged 3% lower in the first two weeks of March, despite a 5% increase in net imports, according to Enterprise Singapore. Both imports and exports are up this month. While imports have risen 12%, exports have surged by 28% to a five-month high.

Meanwhile, the port’s middle distillate stocks have swelled by 20% on the month.


East Asia

China’s low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO) output rose by over 4% in February compared to January, according to JLC data. Several refineries hiked daily production rates on prospects of recovering demand, but production margins remained weak amid falling VLSFO prices.

Meanwhile, China has imported less fuel oil so far this month on a daily average (b/d) basis than in February and January, Vortexa data shows. This points to less reliance on fuel oil imports as domestic refineries have been ramping up crude runs. Higher crude runs tend to yield more residual fuel oil as a by-product.

Recommended lead times for VLSFO delivery in Zhoushan are similar to last week’s 3-5 days. According to Vortexa data, the Chinese bunkering hub is scheduled to receive a VLSFO replenishment cargo on 24 March. HSFO lead times are similar to last week in Zhoushan, at six days, while LSMGO availability has improved and the grade is now available prompt.

Bunker operations in Zhoushan could be suspended by thick fog forecast in the Daishan sea area from Tuesday evening to Wednesday, a source says.

Strong wind gusts of 19-24 knots and waves of more than a metre are forecast to hit Hong Kong on 27 March, which might disrupt bunker operations.

Availability across all three fuel grades remains normal in Hong Kong, with lead times of around seven days – almost same as in the past couple of weeks.

South Korean ports have been seeing weak demand so far this week. Recommended lead times across grades in southern and western South Korean ports have remained virtually unchanged at 4-8 days since last week.

Rough weather is forecast intermittently between 23-26 March in the South Korean ports of Ulsan, Onsan, Daesan, Taean and Yeosu, which might hamper bunkering.

Both the Thai port of Koi Sichang and the Vietnamese port of Hai Phong are forecast to experience adverse weather conditions on 23 March, and Ho Chi Minh City between 26-28 March.


South Asia

VLSFO and LSMGO availability remains good in India’s Mumbai, Visakhapatnam and Kandla, with short lead times of 2-3 days.

Cochin and Chennai on the southern coast of India also have good availability of both the grades, while VLSFO and LSMGO remain subject to enquiry in Tuticorin and Haldia. A supplier in Paradip is almost out of VLSFO.

However, bad weather might disrupt bunkering in India’s west coast ports of Kandla and Sikka between 23-24 March, a source says.

A supplier can offer both VLSFO and LSMGO in the Sri Lankan ports of Colombo and Trincomalee, with prompt dates available.


Middle East

Availability remains okay in Fujairah amid low demand, a source says. Lead times for VLSFO in the UAE port have come down marginally, from around seven days last week to six days now. Six days ahead are now advised for LSMGO, up from five days last week.

HSFO has tightened slightly, with seven days of lead time now typically required, up from six.

By Tuhin Roy


Photo credit and source: ENGINE
Published: 22 March, 2023

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