S&B ANALYSIS: Singapore April Bunker Demand Advances

by Jack Jordan, Managing Editor, Ship & Bunker
Thursday May 13, 2021

Bunker demand in Singapore, the world's largest marine fuels hub, advanced on both a yearly and monthly basis in April.

The city-state's total demand reached 4.3 million mt in April, according to preliminary data from the Maritime and Port Authority, up by 1.34% from the previous month and by 3.5% from April 2020

VLSFO sales slipped by 1.5% on the year to 2.8 million mt, HSFO surged by 41.4% to 1.1 million mt, distillates lost 21.4% to 331,000 mt and other fuels sank by 65.7% to 22,900 mt. HSFO's share of the total was 25.6%, up from 18.7% at the same time last year.

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 partly reflects the slip in demand seen in at the start of the COVID-19 crisis last year; April 2020's level was 4.8% lower than March 2020. 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.

There were 3,377 calls for bunkers in April, 5.4% higher than the level seen a year earlier. That left the average stem size last month at about 1,260 mt, compared with the 12-month average of 1,230 mt.

Tankers Advancing

The total of gross tonnage visiting Singapore jumped by 4.2% on the year to 240 million mt. Tankers led the recovery, gaining 5.5 million mt, and passenger vessels also saw a strong 3.9 million mt rise, while the gain was pared by a 6.7 million mt drop in container ships.

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.