Bunker sales in the world’s largest bunkering hub fell to 3.94 million tonnes in September, the lowest level since June 2020 and a 6.7% drop from September 2020.
Compared to September last year, the largest drop is registered in sales of low-sulphur fuel oil (LSFO), down 10.9% from September 2020 at 2.58 million tonnes. In contrast, high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) sales have risen 6.7% compared with last year to 996,250 tonnes and thereby just short of 1 million tonnes.
The fall in bunker sales matches the fall seen in the number of ships calling the port of Singapore. In September, 4,534 cargo carrying ships arrived at the port, the lowest number this year and a 14.1% drop from September 2020. The ships were on average slightly bigger, however, with the total capacity calling in Singapore falling by 10.7% compared with September last year.
Overall, in the first nine months of this year, total bunker sales in Singapore are at almost the exact same level as they were last year, up by just 0.6% at 37.3 million tonnes. Hiding behind this relatively flat number is 26.0% growth in sales of HSFO in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2020, rising from 7.4m tonnes to 9.4m. The corresponding fall in volumes that mean overall sales are flat, is the 1.2m tonne drop in sales of LSFO (-4.5%).
The higher HSFO sales have meant that the LSFO share of total bunker fuels in Singapore has fallen from above 80% at the start of 2002 to 75% in September 2021. This reflects a higher share of the fleet having scrubbers fitted. As of the end of September, 4,301 ships have had a scrubber fitted, equivalent to 4.2% of the fleet. However, when measured in deadweight tonnes the share is a much higher 23.0%, as larger ships are more likely to have a scrubber installed due to their higher consumption of fuel making for a better scrubber investment case. In DWT, a 25.7% increase in the total capacity equipped with a scrubber has been recorded, a 105.0m DWT rise to 502.0m DWT.