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Asia residue fuel - Key market indicators this week

Singapore — The Marine Fuel 0.5% market witnessed mixed sentiment on the first trading day of the week.

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The market structure at the front of the Singapore Marine Fuel 0.5% swaps curve has progressively slipped deeper into a contango in the last few days to reflect a well-supplied market for June-loading cargoes.

On the flip side though, the end-user Marine Fuel 0.5% bunker market remained supported, as a widening contango led sellers to refrain from offering down to attract buying interest and hold on to oil instead.

Marine fuel 0.5%

** The market structure showed firmed up slightly in mid-morning trades June 1. Singapore Marine Fuel 0.5% July/August was heard pegged at minus $7.75/mt as compared to it's Asian close of minus $8/mt May 29. Still, market sources did not seem to think of this as the start of any significant uptick from current levels, as the market remains well-supplied.

** Singapore's commercial onshore residue stocks dipped 2.7% on the week to 25.597 million barrels, or 4.03 million mt, in the week ended May 27, latest data from Enterprise Singapore showed. But this was after stocks had climbed to a 54-week high of 26.172 million barrels the previous week. As such, on-shore residual fuel stocks averaged 25.223 million barrels in May, up from April average of 23.267 million barrels, data showed.

** A supply overhang coupled with lackluster demand has led the differential for Singapore Marine Fuel 0.5% cargo to the Mean of Platts Singapore Marine Fuel 0.5% assessments to dip to minus 10.55/mt May 29 from a six-week high of minus 4.35/mt reached on May 13, S&P Global Platts data showed.

** Another factor that is said to have weighed on the market is a lower-than-usual demand for low sulfur fuel oil from China, a major demand centre for the product within the region, with average monthly bunker sales of around 1 million mt.

** Since Beijing on February 1 granted a full rebate of the 13% value-added tax for the supply of domestically produced fuel oil as bonded bunker, domestic refiners have ramped up low sulfur fuel oil output, thus reducing China's dependency on imported bunker fuel. China produced about 700,000 mt of LSFO in May, up 7.7% from April, according to local information provider JLC. The production has been constantly rising since February's output of 176,000 mt, according to the data from JLC.

** In other regional bunkering hubs, relatively lower marine fuel 0.5% bunker prices in Japan due to ample supply has drawn demand from neighbouring ports, said traders. There has been an uptick in demand due to a shift away from South Korean ports where prices are relatively higher, traders have said. Platts assessed May 29 Tokyo-Bay delivered Marine Fuel 0.5% at $266/mt, while the same grade delivered at Ulsan and Busan in South Kore was assessed at $275/mt.

** Elsewhere, the middle eastern bunkering hub of Fujairah has been reeling under lackluster demand and ample supply for most part of May, UAE-based market participants have said. Source added that the market was not expected to see any significant uptick in the near term as a fair share of the suppliers were keen to move oil and turnaround barges by offering competitive prices.

High sulfur fuel oil

** Singapore high sulfur fuel oil market was likely to be rangebound in the ensuing trading sessions, traders said. The market was yet to see an impetus from the utility sector for peak summer season burning demand, especially from the Middle East, traders said.

** The market structure at the front of the Singapore HSFO swaps curve was trading slightly higher at minus $4.5/mt in mid-morning trades June 1 as compared to the Asian close of minus $5/mt May 29.

** Meanwhile, as demand for the utility grade 180 CST HSFO is expected to pick up in the ensuing weeks, the viscosity spread -- the premium for the lower viscosity 180 CST fuel over the bunker grade 380 CST HSFO -- was expected to remain supported, said traders. The viscosity spread between Singapore 180 CST HSFO and 380 CST HSFO averaged $8.79/mt in May, up from $4.85/mt in April, Platts data showed.