S&B ANALYSIS: Singapore June Bunker Sales Gain 1% on Month

by Jack Jordan, Managing Editor, Ship & Bunker
Tuesday July 13, 2021

Bunker demand in Singapore, the world's largest marine fuels hub, advanced on both a monthly and yearly basis in June, showing a steady recovery from the worst of the COVID-19 crisis.

The city-state's total demand reached 4.1 million mt in June, according to preliminary data from the Maritime and Port Authority, up by 1% from the previous month and by 7.4% from June 2020.

VLSFO sales slipped by 1.1% on the month to 2.7 million mt, HSFO jumped by 7.6% to 1.1 million mt, distillates lost 1.1% to 307,600 mt and other fuels remained at zero. HSFO's share of the total was 25.8%, up from 24.2% the previous month.

The niche LNG bunker market in Singapore is starting to grow this year, but has not yet been included in the official figures.

Gaining From COVID Slump

The yearly gain is from the nadir of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on shipping activity and marine fuels demand in 2020; June 2020's total was the lowest level in eight months, and preceded a fairly steady recovery for the rest of last year.

Demand a year ago may also have been suppressed by shipping companies working through the VLSFO stockpiles they had built up during the IMO 2020 transition, rather than taking on new purchases. But the rise in sales on a monthly basis from May to June 2021 shows demand levels are continuing to improve this year as global economic activity starts to pick up.

There were 3,242 calls for bunkers in June, 3.2% lower than the level seen a month earlier. That left the average stem size last month at about 1,269 mt, compared with the 12-month average of 1,229 mt.

Container Decline

The total gross tonnage visiting Singapore advanced by 1.8% on the year to 231 million mt. This was heavily pared by a decline in container traffic, which lost 8.9 million mt despite current record demand levels for that segment globally.

Miscellaneous ships saw the strongest growth, gaining 6.7 million mt, and passenger vessels also saw a strong 4.7 million mt rise, while the bulkers were the second-biggest loser after boxships with a 1.9 million mt fall.

The mandatory mass flow meter systems used to measure all bunker deliveries in Singapore come with a +/-0.5% margin of error, a level considered more accurate than traditional measurement systems used at most other ports with the added benefit of all but eliminated volumetric malpractice.

Only licensed companies can supply bunkers in Singapore, and the MPA calculates sales based on the bunker delivery notes of those companies.