Singapore’s fuel oil imports slipped to a multi-year low of close to 3.8mn tons in December, according to Vortexa data, coinciding with the market transition into the IMO-mandated global bunker fuel switch from 1 January 2020.
Fuel oil imports into the world’s largest bunkering hub have been on a decline since hitting a peak of 5.9mn tons in August (the highest since November 2018), amid steep high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) backwardation and a closed east-west arbitrage.
HSFO Inflows Drop: Arrivals from Iraq and the Netherlands – predominantly HSFO – saw a combined 870,000 mt decline last month versus full-year average, the largest drop among fuel oil suppliers to Singapore, Vortexa data show.
Meanwhile, low sulphur fuel oil cargoes were delivered into Greater Singapore in December, from the UAE, Russia and Thailand, among others.
VLSFO Sales Rise: Sales of VLSFO bunkers more than doubled to 1.6mn tons in November, from 570,000 mt in October , as reported by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.
Floating Fuel Oil Inventories: A related tightening of the VLSFO market has been observed from the draw-down in Malaysia's Pelepas area floating storage inventories to 3.1mn tons at the end of December, compared with 3.7mn tons in October, according to Vortexa data.
Another 500,000 mt of HSFO is estimated to be stored in the floating storage vessels in the same area, bringing total fuel oil inventory in the 23 fuel oil floating storage vessels to 3.6mn tons by end-December.
Onshore stocks down: Meanwhile, Singapore’s onshore residual fuel inventories has also seen a decline from 20.2mn bbl (or 3mn tons) as at end December, down 1.6mn bbl (or 240,000 mt) from November, according to data from Enterprise Singapore.