Bunker sales in Singapore hit a three-month high in April thanks to better prices

Sales of marine fuel, also known as bunker fuel, hit a three-month high in April in Singapore, the world’s largest fueling hub, the latest official data showed as prices were more competitive than at regional ports.

Singapore’s bunker sales data is an indicator of sentiment in one of the world’s busiest ports, and demand is also impacting Asia’s fuel oil refinery margins.

Sales rose for the second straight month to 4.25 million tonnes, up 2% month-on-month and 14% year-on-year, data from Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority showed.

The rise reflected higher ship bunker calls, which totaled 3,495 calls in April, extending gains after hitting a two-year high in March.

“VLSFO prices in Singapore were more competitive than Zhoushan in April, leading to more vessels bunkering in Singapore,” said Ivan Mathews, FGE head of Asia refineries and global fuel oil.

“Prices so far in May have continued to be cheaper than Zhoushan, which should continue to support VLSFO sales in Singapore.”

Bunker prices for ultra-low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) in Singapore in April and May so far have been $5 to $20 below those in Zhoushan in China, according to bunker traders, according to bunker traders.

Sales of LSFO grades totaled 2.71 million tonnes in April, up 5% month-on-month, Port Authority data showed.

Meanwhile, April sales of high-sulfur fuel oil fell 4% to 1.19 million tonnes, although they rose 26% from the same month last year, while sales of marine gas oil were slightly lower at 327,400 tonnes.

“Demand increased in April compared to February and March. May is looking fine so far, but I’m not sure it will last as fuel oil cargo premiums have fallen,” said a senior bunker fuel trader based in Singapore.

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