S&B ANALYSIS: Singapore 2021 Bunker Sales Hit Four-Year High

by Jack Jordan, Managing Editor, Ship & Bunker
Thursday January 13, 2022

Bunker sales in Singapore reached a four-year high in 2021 despite a slowdown last month, with the annual total coming just 11,000 mt short of 50 million mt.

Total demand in the city-state's waters, the world's largest bunkering hub, slipped to 4.2 million mt in December, according to preliminary data from the Maritime and Port Authority, down by 1% from the previous month and by 2.6% from the same month a year earlier.

That left 2021's conventional bunker fuel total at 49.989 million mt, 0.3% above 2020's total and the highest annual level since 2017.

VLSFO sales fell by 0.5% on the month to 2.7 million mt in December, HSFO lost 3.9% to 1.1 million mt, distillates gained 9.6% to 356,800 mt and other fuels dropped by 41% to 22,500 mt. HSFO's share of the total was 27.4%, down from 28.1% the previous month.

On an annual basis VLSFO took a 65.8% share of the total last year, HSFO had 25.8% and distillates 8.2%. That compares with their respective shares of 68.4%, 21.3% and 9.4% in 2020.

Separately the MPA published LNG bunker sales figures for the first time on Thursday, saying Singapore saw 50,000 mt of LNG sales last year.

Cooling Off

The demand figures show a continued cooling-off in Asian bunker markets at the end of last year with renewed concerns over COVID-19 at key ports in the region. Singapore's sales have dropped for two straight months after reaching their 2021 high of 4.3 million mt/month in October.

There were 3,144 vessel calls for bunkers in December, 2.1% lower than the level seen a month earlier. That left the average stem size last month at about 1,329 mt, compared with the 12-month average of 1,268 mt.

Singapore saw a total of 39,447 bunker calls last year, down by 2.8% from 2020's level, meaning its average stem size gained 3.3% from 2020 to 2021.

Boxship Decline

The total gross tonnage visiting Singapore in December dropped by 6.3% on the year to 229.8 million mt. This decline was led by the container segment, which lost 7.6 million mt, and by a 6 million mt drop in bulker tonnage.

Tanker tonnage lost 1.7 million mt on the year in December.

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.