S&B MARKET SURVEY: Global Bunker Hub Demand Gained 3.1% on Year in Q1

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Friday June 30, 2023

    • 3.1% average advance in Q1 2023 vs Q1 2022
    • Q1 volumes see 2.2% fall from Q4 2022
    • Weakness in ports focused on container market
    • Read the full report here: shipandbunker.com/bi/bunker-volumes

Demand at key marine fuel hubs advanced on a yearly basis but slipped on the quarter in the first three months of 2023, according to the latest market survey of bunker sales volumes in 17 leading global locations.

As in previous quarters, Ship & Bunker and consultancy 2050 Marine Energy surveyed bunker market participants around the world alongside official data where available and found an average climb of 3.1% in volumes in the first quarter from the same period of 2022. The year-on-year advance compares with a 0.5% year-on-year drop in the fourth quarter of 2022. Q1 volumes sequentially were 2.2% lower than in Q4 2022.

The survey covers about 60% of the global demand total shown by official IMO data.

"I feel we may be seeing the calm before the storm -- there is no question that demand is changing in certain ports as we deal with slow steaming (container ships especially) increased ton miles and shadow fleet operations," Adrian Tolson, owner of 2050 Marine Energy, told Ship & Bunker on Thursday.

"The standout numbers in Q1 are China, Singapore and Russia, which would seem to be supported by sanctions creating changed demand patterns. 

"When will the storm comes -- all the trends in western ports of Q1 seem exacerbated in Q2 -- expect the west to lose demand and the east to gain."

Ukraine and Containers Continue as Key Market Drivers

The repercussions from the war in Ukraine remain an important factor in the market, with global fuel oil tradeflows having changed significantly in the aftermath. 

But this is now being overtaken by a slump in container demand unrelated to the war, amid wider global economic uncertainty. This is partly being offset by strength in tanker markets.

"We see a widespread reduction of demand due to a general economic slowdown," Guido Cardullo, head of business development at Fratelli Cosulich, told Ship & Bunker on Thursday.

"Vessels are also reducing speed, and this affects bunker consumption as well."

Keld Demant, CEO of the world's largest marine fuels company, Bunker Holding, told Ship & Bunker this week that his firm was seeing a return to normalcy in bunker markets at the start of this year.

"I would say we were pretty much back to a normal market [by Q1]," Demant said.

"On volumes, I do not see any difference.

"We actually do see certain segments of shipping that will have a tougher future, but because of this long, very profitable period that came before, we don't foresee that any of the segments in the short-term will run into any problems in regards to credit."


As with the previous surveys the areas covered by the survey are Singapore, the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) hub, Fujairah, the US Gulf, South Korea, Russia, the Gibraltar Strait, Hong Kong, Panama, Zhoushan, Japan, New York, West Africa, South Africa, the Canary Islands, Los Angeles/Long Beach and Turkey. Data is sourced from a combination of market participants and official records.

The full breakdown of the survey results including sales volumes in each bunkering region for Q1 2023 and 2022 is available by clicking here.