In Singapore, the world’s largest bunkering hub, the bunker
sale landscape saw significant change as the sale of HSFO dropped in a matter
of months. In contrast, the sale of low-sulfur fuels skyrocketed in the final
The first wave of IMO2020 preliminary estimates from the
Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) indicates that a total of 4,465
thousand tons were sold in December 2019, a 4% increase compared to December
2018 and the highest sale of bunker fuel sold in Singapore since January 2018
Sales of low-sulfur fuels, including LSFO and MGO LS, rose
by 51% month-on-month in December to 3,127 thousand tons, compared to the 1,271
thousand tons of HSFO sold in the same month.
“The shipping industry has been riddled with market
uncertainty in recent months but the bunker sales in the port of Singapore
provide one of the first readings as to how the industry has transitioned into
compliance with the IMO2020 regulation,” Peter Sand, BIMCO’s Chief Shipping
“We have now surpassed the first wave of IMO2020 and
hopefully the accompanying market uncertainty will diminish as we proceed into
The shift in bunker sales
In December, a total of 2,630 thousand tons of LSFO were
sold, accounting for 59% of total sales. This is a massive change considering
that it accounted for roughly 1% of total sales in the last 2 couple of years.
However, the total 2019 bunker sales in Singapore were down
4% year-on-year, the lowest level since 2015.
The December figures provide insight into the IMO2020
transition and how the upcoming year might unfold. At the start of 2019,
low-sulfur fuels accounted for a mere 8% of total sales compared with a jump to
70% in December.
“The massive uptick in market share of low-sulphur fuels
illustrate the first wave of IMO2020, but BIMCO does not necessarily expect the
low-sulphur to high-sulphur sales ratio to remain at these levels in the coming
year,” the association added.
While low-sulfur fuels have gained the largest market share,
it is worth noticing how HSFO still accounts for 28% of total sales, driven by
bunkers purchased for scrubber-fitted ships. Many of the scrubber-fitted ships
are also the largest types of ships consuming relatively more fuel, which will
surely facilitate stable demand for HSFO.
The bunker market in the port of Rotterdam, approximately
one-sixth of the size of the Singaporean market, exhibited the same trend in
November. Here, the sale of HSFO declined substantially while low-sulfur fuels
rose to 50% of total bunker sales.
The shift in bunker sales underlines the massive transition
that the shipping industry has been faced with at the turn of the decade. For
the first wave of the transition, the global fleet seems to have bunkered
sufficiently. A second wave is expected to set into motion once the fleet has
burned through the initial supply of low-sulfur fuels.