What is FOB Straits?
As one of the world's busiest ports, Singapore naturally fills the criteria as a key base location for many of Platts oil products assessments. But the further expansion of Singapore's on-land oil storage is likely to be limited, while growth plans in nearby Johor and the Riau Islands mean trading of products – and the benchmarks that reflect that activity – has spilled beyond Singapore's traditional boundaries and into new frontiers.
It is vital that Platts assessments are able to capture the full range of trading activity in the market, and so Platts has decided to reflect those regional terminals as part of the Platts FOB Singapore oil benchmarks in a more integrated fashion — FOB Straits.
FOB Straits encompasses terminals beyond Singapore's borders. FOB Straits bids could be met with any approved terminal, whether in Singapore, Malaysia or, possibly at a later date, Indonesia, while similarly sellers could nominate any such terminal for a FOB Straits offer.
Based on data from International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the port is the world's busiest bunkering port, importing about 5.5 million mt of fuel oil every month. Of that, about 3.5 million mt is sold as bunkers, and the remaining volume exported, mainly to China and Malaysia. The port also sees some 2.3 million mt of middle distillates and 1.2 million mt gasoline exported every month, to neighboring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam, with some reaching as far afield as Australia, Africa and even Europe.
As Asia's economic influence has grown, so Singapore's logistics have expanded over the past decade, with storage increasing within Singapore and trading reaching out to embrace terminals in Malaysia and Indonesia to accommodate higher volumes. Beyond Singapore, storage has mushroomed across Asia, as areas such as China's Zhuhai, Malaysia's Port Klang and South Korea's Ulsan, have responded to the same market signals.
Widening the list of ports that can serve as loading points for FOB oil products trades in the Singapore area provides a broader foundation for market liquidity, while retaining the advantages of a tight regional focus in the Asian oil products benchmarks.
It is a significant change, and Platts will continue to monitor the impact of deliveries from southern Malaysian terminals compared with deliveries from landed storage within Singapore.
The inclusion of FOB Straits in the geographical coverage of its FOB Singapore refined oil products benchmarks ensures Platts is well positioned to reflect growth in regional oil trading for years to come.