Bunkerworld Index: Vaccine shortages, lower Chinese mobility weigh on crude, marine fuel
29th January 2021 14:09 GMT

Bunker fuel prices found themselves under continued downward pressure in the week beginning Jan. 25 as coronavirus-related concerns weighed on the oil complex, putting a ceiling on marine fuel values.

The BW0.5%S Index ended Jan. 28 at $445/mt, down $4/mt on the day and $2/mt week on week but $27/mt higher than 30 days previously.

Crude oil futures were rangebound during mid-afternoon trade in Asia on Jan. 29 as short-term headwinds like vaccine shortages in the EU and lower mobility in China countered growing indications of a longer-term recovery.

S&P Global Platts assessed the Dated Brent crude benchmark at $55.62/b Jan. 28, down 65 cents on the day, down 37 cents week on week and up $4.41 from Dec. 30.

Southeast Asia is showing the strongest demand recovery in bunker sales while Europe and North America are still battling the worst of the pandemic, according to Mark Waddington, director and senior consultant at Channoil Consulting Ltd.

Scrubber economics are currently poor, and he said he didn't expect the 0.5%S-3.5%S fuel oil spread to widen significantly until demand recovered globally.

The Singapore 0.5%S marine fuel market is expected to trade steady to perhaps a touch lower than prevailing levels as trading activity loos ahead to February delivery, traders said. Demand was unlikely to be robust due to the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays when trading activity generally dials down a notch.

Mediterranean bunker demand has been reported firmer and this trend is expected to remain in place in the coming days. “[It] is on the increase, lots more ships waiting and positioning down there,” one source said.

Market players in the US Gulf Coast enter February with an eye still on demand fundamentals, as liquidity remains limited so far this year. Recently, talk of discounts for smaller stems of 0.5%S FO have re-emerged, leading to ex-wharf indications to fall in a range as wide as $40/mt. Additional direction has come lately from the US energy complex, which has trended bullish overall in recent weeks.

The BW Indexes are weighted daily indexes made up of assessments at 20 key bunkering ports. To obtain a representative geographical spread, the ports were selected by size with reference to their geographical importance.

The BW0.5%S Index ports are Hong Kong, South Korea, Shanghai, Singapore, Japan, Las Palmas, Durban, Fujairah, Gibraltar, Piraeus, Rotterdam, St. Petersburg, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Balboa and Santos.

The BW380 Index ports are Busan, Canary Islands, Colombo, Durban, Fujairah, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Offshore Nigeria, Panama Canal, Piraeus, Rotterdam, Santos, Shanghai, Singapore, St. Petersburg, Suez and Tokyo.

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Bunkerworld ,
29th January 2021 14:09 GMT