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ENGINE: East of Suez Bunker Fuel Availability Outlook

Wednesday, 07 February 2024 | 01:00

Singapore and Southeast Asia

Five suppliers out of the large pool of suppliers in Singapore are struggling to meet delivery schedules. This has resulted in constrained availability and delays in deliveries. Currently, it’s taking nearly two weeks for VLSFO delivery, compared to around 10 days last week. HSFO requires lead times of 8-11 days, while LSMGO lead times vary between 3-11 days.
Recent data from Enterprise Singapore showed that residual fuel oil stocks in Singapore averaged 8% higher in January compared to December. This coincided with a significant 44% surge in net fuel oil imports in January, with both imports and exports gaining last month. Fuel oil imports grew by 1.57 million bbls last month, outpacing the growth in exports by 21,000 bbls, contributing to stock building.

However, middle distillate stocks slumped in the port, and averaged 15% lower in January compared to December.

VLSFO and LSMGO availability has improved in Malaysia’s Port Klang, with most suppliers now able to offer prompt dates. Lead times of around 14 days were recommended for both grades last week. However, the supply of HSFO continues to remain under pressure.

China and East Asia

Bunker deliveries have resumed across all Zhoushan anchorages on Tuesday after being halted for a day due to adverse weather conditions, a source says. The Chinese bunkering hub has been facing prolonged adverse weather conditions over the past few weeks, resulting in bunker backlogs. Most suppliers are now recommending lead times of 7-10 days for VLSFO, up from 5-8 last week. Additionally, HSFO and LSMGO require lead times of 5-7 days.

According to a source, the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays from 10-17 February have not stimulated demand in Zhoushan, with the port still encountering sluggish demand. Typically, stems for upcoming deliveries can be reserved at the port until Tuesday before the holiday period commences.

Dalian faces a tight supply of VLSFO and LSMGO, while Tianjin experiences tightness across all grades. Qingdao has constrained prompt availability of VLSFO and LSMGO, and HSFO remains subject to enquiry.

Suppliers in southern Chinese ports, including Shanghai, Xiamen and Guangzhou, are encountering tight availability of VLSFO and LSMGO, and HSFO is also tight in Shanghai. Both low-sulphur grades are under pressure in Fuzhou and Yangpu.

Due to Singapore’s heavy congestion and tight delivery schedules, multiple vessels have opted to lift bunkers at ports such as Hong Kong and Port Klang as well. Despite the heightened bunker demand, availability of all grades has improved in Hong Kong, with lead times coming down from 10 days last week to around seven days now.

Adverse weather conditions have kept bunker demand “quiet” in South Korean ports. Several suppliers are grappling to clear bunker backlogs caused by recent weather-induced disruptions. These delays have extended lead times for deliveries. Lead times for HSFO have gone up from 5-10 days last week, to 8-11 days now. VLSFO and LSMGO lead times vary widely between 3-10 days now.

Bunker operations in several South Korean ports, including Ulsan, Onsan, Busan, Daesan, Taean, and Yeosu, may face intermittent disruptions between Friday and Sunday due to anticipated high waves, potentially impacting bunkering.

In Japan, bunkering demand continues to remain sluggish. Various lead times are recommended across all grades in key Japanese ports, with around 4-5 days in Tokyo, Chiba, Osaka and Kobe, approximately seven days in Nagoya, Yokkaichi and Mizushima, and longer periods of around 10 days in Oita.

Additionally, adverse weather conditions are predicted in the Thai ports of Koh Sichang and Leam Chabang between 11-12 February, and in the Vietnamese port of Ho Chi Minh between 9-10 February, posing potential challenges for bunker deliveries.

South Asia

Kandla, situated on India’s northwest coast, has good availability of VLSFO and LSMGO, with prompt supply available. However, several other Indian ports, including Mumbai, Cochin and Chennai, are grappling with supply shortages for both grades.

All three bunker fuel grades are readily available in the Sri Lankan port of Colombo.

Middle East

Ongoing attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea have led shipping companies to divert vessels around Africa rather than using the shorter Suez Canal route. This change in shipping routes has gradually dented bunker demand in Fujairah.

Despite a decrease in demand, prompt availability remains tight for all grades in Fujairah, with recommended lead times of 7-10 days – unchanged from last week. However, some suppliers can still provide prompt stems across all grades in the port.

A similar situation is observed in the UAE port of Khor Fakkan, where several suppliers advise unchanged lead times of 7-10 days.
Source: ENGINE, By Tuhin Roy, https://engine.online/news

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