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Experts discuss state of global bunker fuel market at ‘Argus Bunker Fuel 2021

22 Feb 2021

Global energy and commodity price reporting agency Argus Media on Saturday (20 February) said participants from 26 countries joined the broadcast of its international online conference Argus Bunker Fuel 2021: CIS and Global Markets on Friday, 19 February.

The conference was supported by the International Bunkering Association (IBIA) and was sponsored by Vortexa.

Representatives from IBIA, Gazpromneft Marine Bunker, Vortexa, Monjasa, VPS, as well as Argus experts from different countries spoke at the event which boasted participants from Russia, Kazakhstan, Great Britain, USA, Japan and so on.

The conference began with a presentation by Stefka Wechsler, editor of Argus Marine Fuels, on the global marine fuel market where she presented a detailed analysis of the bunker markets in Asia, America and Europe.

Wechsler noted Argus is monitoring the development of the bunker market, including low carbon fuels, by publishing prices for ammonia, liquified natural gas (LNG) and CO2.

An overview of the Russian bunker market was presented by Yana Sheremetyeva, Senior Correspondent of Argus Russian Fuel Oil.

Sheremetyeva said data shows sales of high-sulfur fuel oil continue, while consumption of low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) has grown significantly in Russia. Sheremetyeva also noted sales of all types of fuel on the Russian market falling by 30% in 2020.

At the same time, prices for VLSFO dropped by half, to $ 365 / t. Most noticeably, VLSFO fell in price in late April – early May due to a lockdown in ports in the Asia-Pacific region (APR) and Europe.

Nigel Draffin, Member of the Board of Directors, Honorary Treasurer of IBIA presented a comparison between different types of marine fuels. According to Draffin, the greatest interest among alternative fuels is now in methane as its use in the market as LNG as a marine fuel is already well established.

Draffin noted serious research is also underway to use biodiesel for refueling ships in the inland waters of certain countries. However, biofuels are not yet used on long sea routes. According to Draffin, the use of LNG in the bunkering segment in the future will be limited to 10-15% of total demand.

The discussion was continued by Efim Suchkov, a representative of Gazpromneft Marine Bunker, who spoke about the use of LNG as an alternative fuel.

In particular, Suchkov noted in a little over two years the gas-fuel fleet has grown by almost 50%, and the number of LNG bunkering vessels has tripled. For the dynamic development of the LNG bunkering market in Russia, it is necessary to approve measures of state support, he added.

Arthur Reacher, Lead Freight Analyst, Vortexa, presented changes in the freight traffic landscape over 2020. He noted a significant decrease in supply from suppliers in the past year – with production volumes at refineries in the world being much lower than in previous years.

At the same time, trade flows to Asia have accounted for most of the demand for fuel in 2020. Reacher added there is also a decrease in reserves in the APR countries. With regards to the outstripping rates of economic development of Asian countries in comparison with other regions, Reacher noted the main fuel supplies will continue to flow there in the observable future.

Rauf Huseynov, Senior Editor at Argus, presented an overview of the bunker fuel market in the Caspian region. According to Huseynov, the gradual easing of restrictive measures will lead to an intensification of ship traffic and an increase in demand for marine fuel in the near future.

As the market recovers, competition between the Caspian ports will increase. If the sanctions against Iran are softened, it can be expected Iranian fuel will be available to the participants of the Caspian market in certain volumes.

Photo credit: Argus Media
Published: 22 February, 2021

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