Bunker fuel sales in Singapore reached 4.121 million mt in July, up 9.8% month on month and 1.4% higher on the year, reaching the highest level of 2022 so far, according to preliminary data from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore Aug. 13.
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Sales of both low sulfur fuel oil bunkers in July reversed double-digit declines from the previous month, MPA data also showed, amid steadier demand from higher bunker-only calls and vessel arrivals.
The number of bunker-only calls rose 8.2% on month to 3,181 in July, though this was also a 3.4% decline on the year, MPA data showed, while total vessel arrivals jumped 9% on the month and 25% on the year to a 28-month high of 9,044.
Sales of the International Maritime Organization-compliant grades, which include 100 CST, 180 CST, 380 CST and 500 CST bunker fuel, gained 6.5% on the month but slipped 7.2% on the year to 2.506 million mt in July.
However, LSFO sales accounted for only 60.8% of the total, 1.9 percentage points below June and 5.6 percentage points lower on year -- the lowest proportion since IMO2020 mandate was instated.
"More LSFO volumes were sold than usual... There was good demand in July," a Singapore-based bunker supplier said, adding that their sales volume was up almost 20% on the month despite stronger bunker premiums.
However, LSFO sales volumes did beat traders' estimates, as reduced LSFO inventories thinned the availability of prompt bunker deliveries, with some suppliers reportedly staying out of the market owing to the limited stockpiles.
Sellers able to procure ample components for the LSFO blending pool and offer prompt deliveries at competitive prices are also more likely to outperform the market during July and August, market sources said.
The Platts Singapore-delivered marine fuel 0.5% sulfur bunker fuel premium to benchmark FOB Singapore Marine Fuel 0.5% cargo assessments averaged $104.08/mt in July, up from $94.95/mt in June, before slipping to $52.10/mt Aug. 1-12, according to data from S&P Global Commodity Insights.
Sales of high sulfur bunker fuel -- including 180 CST, 380 CST and 500 CST bunker fuel -- climbed 16% on the month and 20% year on year to 1.267 million mt in July, according to MPA data.
HSFO bunker sales in July accounted for 30.8% of total sales, 1.7 percentage points up on the month and 26% above the previous year's figure.
Despite adequate HSFO stockpiles to meet downstream spot requirements during most of July, inventory levels during the first half of August tightened slightly, although these are expected to ease further during the next half of the month, according to local traders.
The Platts Singapore-delivered 380 CST HSFO bunker premium against the benchmark FOB Singapore 380 CST HSFO cargo assessments rose to average $16.01/mt in July from $13.82/mt in June, and inched higher to $19.90/mt Aug. 1-12, S&P Global data showed.
Sales of low sulfur marine gasoil -- which has a maximum sulfur content of 0.1% -- gained 15% on the month and almost 12% on the year to 313,800 mt in July.
Bunker demand in Singapore initially had a strong start during the first week of August, owing to the lower international crude oil prices then, but it has since slowed since amid a stronger outright price environment, traders said.
"Demand is just average... Seen a lot of prompt bunker [inquiries] and less of forward month requirements," a second bunker supplier said Aug. 13, adding that only a handful of suppliers are able to offer LSFO for prompt delivery within a three-day lead time.