Beijing-based commodity market information provider JLC Network Technology Co. recently shared its JLC China Bunker monthly report for March 2023 with Manifold Times through an exclusive arrangement:
Bunker Fuel Demand
China’s bonded bunker fuel sales rebound in March
China’s bonded bunker fuel sales rebounded in March, as more foreign ships refueled at Chinese ports where low-sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) prices were competitive.
The country tallied about 1.59 million mt of bonded bunker fuel sales in March, a rally of 130,000 mt or 8.18%from February, JLC’s data shows. Specifically, the sales by Chimbusco and SinoBunker climbed to 610,000mt and 70,000 mt, up from 550,000 mt and 60,000 mt in the previous month respectively, while those by Sinopec Zhoushan slipped to 530,000 mt, down from 550,000 mt. At the same time, China ChangJiangBunker (Sinopec) sold about 40,000 mt of bonded bunker fuel, unchanged month on month. In addition, suppliers with regional licenses sold 340,000 mt, versus 260,000 mt in February.
LSFO prices at Chinese ports, especially those in Zhoushan and Shanghai, dropped in the month, attracting more shipowners to refuel. However, the supply of bonded bunker resources was still relatively tight in South China, limiting the rise in China’s total sales.
China’s bonded bunker fuel exports plunge 23.64% in Jan-Feb
China’s bonded bunker fuel exports plunged by 23.64% year on year in January-February 2023, due to multiple downsides.
The country exported about 2.93 million mt of bonded bunker fuel in the two months, down from3.84 million mt in the corresponding months in 2022, JLC estimated, with reference to data from the General Administration of Customs of PRC (GACC).
Heavy bunker fuel exports were 2.79 million mt in the first two months of this year, accounting for 95.18%of the total.At the same time, marine oil gas (MGO) exports were 141,500 mt, making up 4.82%.
Enterprises with national and regional bunkering licenses exported about 2.41 million mt and 526,600 mt in the two months, occupying 82.05% and 17.95% respectively. Sinopec Fuel Oil and Chimbusco were still the main suppliers in this period.
In January alone, China’s bonded bunker fuel exports were roughly 1.32 million mt, a dramatic slump of 46.38% year on year. Global shipping demand was seasonally weak in January, and foreign shipowners were wary about purchases. Meanwhile, the supply of bonded resources tightened in northern regions, which also hit the exports. In addition, some bunkering business at Chinese ports was halted during the Chinese New Year holiday, and China’s customs clearing procedure for export was also affected by the holiday.
However, the exports rebounded in February when global shipping demand grew modestly. Meanwhile, the operation of China’s customs returned to normal after the holiday. China’s bonded bunker fuel exports stood at about 1.61 million mt in February, up by 22.08% from a month earlier and 17.04% from a year earlier.
On the flip side, China’s low-sulfur fuel oil (LSFO) output climbed in January-February as domestic demand rallied. China’s LSFO output settled at 2.46 million mt in the two months, an increase of 7.40%year on year, JLC’s data shows.
China may boost its bonded bunker fuel exports in March as the country’s foreign trade may improve on preferential policies, but the exports are unlikely to grow much because the recovery of the global economy and shipping demand is still slow.
Domestic bunker fuel demand grows slower in March
Domestic-trade bunker fuel demand saw slower growth in March when shipowners were more cautious about purchases. Domestic-trade bunker fuel demand settled at 360,000 mt in the month, a gain of 20,000 mt or 5.88%monthon month, decelerating from a rise of 8.82% in February. Trade cooled down with shipping demand still slow to recover.
In the meantime, domestic demand for light bunker fuel climbed to 135,000 mt, up by 5,000 mt or 3.85%, slowing down from a jump of 18.18% in February. Domestic-trade light bunker fuel consumption increased slightly when marine gas oil prices slipped, but the increase was much slower than a month earlier due to deeper wait-and-see sentiment.
Bunker Fuel Supply
China’s bonded bunker imports hit new low in Jan-Feb 2023
China’s bonded bunker fuel imports plummeted to a new low in the first two months of 2023, largely due to relatively high freight rates and ample supply of domestic low-sulfur fuel oil (LSFO).
The country imported approximately 456,900 mt of bonded bunker fuel in January and February 2023, a plunge of 48.01% from the same period in 2022, JLC estimates, based on data from the General Administration of Customs of PRC (GACC).
Most distributors favored domestically-produced low-sulfur bonded bunker fuel over imported fuel as international freight rates remained high, and domestic supply was more stable and less expensive, industry sources said.
Some distributors with regional licenses to supply bonded bunker may choose to suspend bunkering business if they failed to secure domestic LSFO supplies, according to industry sources.
In China’s bonded bunker market, only high-sulfur fuel oil (HSFO) and marine gasoil (MGO) still rely on imports, while LSFO is rarely seen coming from overseas at present.
Noticeably, HSFO and MGO only account for a small percentage of market share in China’s bonded bunkering business, which may explain why imports were so low in January and February this year.
Malaysia was the top supplier of bonded bunker during the two-month period, exporting 306,400 mt to China, accounting for 67% of the latter’s total imports, followed by South Korea, which exported 109,500 mt with an import share of 24%. Japan and Singapore ranked third and fourth with 39,500 mt and 1,500 mt, accounting for 8.7% and 0.3% respectively.
Domestic heavy bunker fuel supply increases in March
Domestic-trade heavy bunker fuel supply continued to increase in March. Chinese blenders supplied about 375,000 mt of heavy bunker fuel in the month, an uptick of 15,000 mt or 4.17% from a month earlier, JLC’s data shows.
In contrast, the supply of marine gas oil (MGO) shrank to 140,000 mt in the month, a mild dip of 5,000 mt or 3.45% month on month, the data indicates.
Some blenders were wary about bunker fuel blending when downstream demand was relatively weak. As aresult, they just based their supply on actual orders.
Bunker Prices, Profits
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JLC China Bunker Fuel Market Monthly Report is published by JLC Network Technology Co., Ltd every month on China bunker market, demand, supply, margin, freight index, forecast and so on. The report provides full-scale & concise insight into China bunker oil market.
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Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (February 2023)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (January 2023)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (December 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (November 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (October 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (September 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (August 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (July 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (June 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (May 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (April 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (March 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (February 2022)
Related: JLC China Bunker Market Monthly Report (January 2022)
Note: China-based commodity market information provider JLC Technology has been providing Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times China bunker volume data since 2020. Data from that period is available here.
Photo credit: JLC Network Technology
Published: 17 May, 2023
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