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Hong Kong: Bunker demand shift to nearby ports after tightening of COVID-19 measures

11 Aug 2020

Demand for bunker fuel at Hong Kong port has shifted to neighbouring ports since the introduction of stricter Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) measures in late July, learned Manifold Times.

Vessels coming to Hong Kong port only for bunkering operations are now subjected to a 14-day quarantine in anchorage once they get into Hong Kong waters.

“Demand has dropped a lot due to the quarantine policy,” a local bunker trader told the Singapore bunkering publication.

Another Hong Kong-based source added, “almost all bunkering calls have been diverted to other ports, and north ports such as Zhoushan. Most bunkers here are for regular container liners only.”

A trader working at one of Hong Kong’s largest bunkering firms estimated bunkers-only calls from vessels falling between 30% to a maximum of 40%, with the local bunkering volume slowing by approximately 20%.

He explained the bunkering volume coming from containerships conducting cargo operations at Hong Kong port forms a much larger proportion than the bunkers-only call volume.

A Chinese bunker broker, meanwhile, estimated the additional quarantine requirement has resulted in a demand loss of between 40-50% for bunkers-only calls at Hong Kong port.

“Almost all the vessels which earlier used to do bunkers-only calls at Hong Kong have now switched to other nearby ports in a hurry,” she said.

Ports in South China become among the first choices for vessels looking for an alternative bunkering port.

Both barge and cargoes of VLSFO at Guangzhou port, where China Shipping & Sinopec, Sinopec Zhoushan and Chimbusco are the main physical suppliers, are now very tight.

To date, the price of VLSFO at Guangzhou port have rose to USD 390-430 per metric tonne (pmt) with deliveries on a first come first supply basis.

A shipping operator, meanwhile, advised the company is currently thinking of conducting bunkers-only calls at Xiamen or Hainan ports where supply conditions are still fine.

In Xiamen, the main physicals are Chimbusco and Sinopec Zhoushan. Both barges and avails are currently fine. In Hainan, the main physicals are China Shipping & Sinopec and Sinopec Zhoushan. It should be noted that in Hainan, VLSFO is only available from Sinopec Zhoushan.

The price of VLSFO at Xiamen port is between USD 350-360 per metric tonne (pmt).

Some players at Zhoushan, the main bunkers-only call port in China, may have benefitted from the development at Hong Kong port. A local physical supplier said its supply volume increased between 10-20%, while another major supplier noted of no “big changes” to bunker sales volumes.

The price of VLSFO at Zhoushan port is about USD 330-350 pmt; while LSMGO is priced at between USD 395-420 pmt.

Related: Hong Kong: Bunkering operations affected amidst tightening of COVID-19 measures


Published: 11 August, 2020
Photo credit: stinne24 from Pixabay

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