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Japan's Feb bunker demand seen below 300,000 mt on Lunar New Year, high prices

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Japan's Feb bunker demand seen below 300,000 mt on Lunar New Year, high prices

Japan's bunker demand in February has weakened due to Lunar New Yearholidays and high prices, with sales in the month expected to total 300,000mt or less, market sources said Thursday.

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Sales in January were estimated at 320,000-330,000 mt, while sales inFebruary 2012 totaled 316,976 kl (about 312,221 mt), according to theMinistry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Bunker demand from Chinese shipping companies fell during the Lunar NewYear holiday period that began February 11.

Japan's bunker prices also remained high in comparison to ports innearby countries like South Korea, and vessels departing Japan were opting tosource bunker fuel there, market sources said.

Japan's 380 CST bunker premium over South Korea rose to $21.08/mt overFebruary 1-20 after averaging $12.25/mt in January, according to Platts dataIt was also priced $39.71/mt higher than Singapore 380 CST bunker fuel onaverage over February 1-20, widening from $39.33/mt in January. That spreadaveraged $32.55/mt in 2012.

Bunker traders based in Tokyo said supply was ample all over Japan amidweak demand. However, South Korean bunker prices were even weaker, also dueto thin demand and ample supply.

METI will release January bunker sales data on March 14.

--Atsuko Kawasaki, atsuko_kawasaki@platts.com

--Edited by Wendy Wells, wendy_wells@platts.com

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