Comparison of 2017 bunker fuel demand data at key marine hubs

The following are the 2017 marine fuel demand data and estimates for the world’s three largest bunkering hubs — Singapore, Rotterdam and Fujairah. The numbers come from Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA), the Port of Rotterdam and estimates from Fujairah-based traders.


Demand at the world’s biggest bunkering location climbed to another record high in 2017, gaining 4.2% from the previous year to 50.6 million mt.

The advance was led by a 13% rise in low sulfur marine gasoil demand and a 4.7% climb in high sulfur 380 CST fuel oil. Consumption of high sulfur 180 CST fuel oil sank by 48.2% as demand continued to shift to higher-viscosity grades commonly used by more modern vessels.

The jump in Singapore’s volumes lays to rest concerns expressed in late 2016 that the mandatory use of mass flow meters (MFMs) for fuel oil bunker deliveries from the start of last year might dent demand. MFMs are a more accurate measurement system for oil deliveries, and the MPA mandated their use last year in an attempt to resolve the quantity disputes between buyers and sellers that had plagued the port in previous years.

While Singapore’s growth has been seemingly unstoppable for the past three years — and looks set to continue after the International Maritime Organization’s 0.5% sulfur cap shakes up the bunker industry in 2020 — suppliers have been less positive about the port as margins have dwindled. Aegean Marine Petroleum decided in October to exit the physical supply business in Singapore at the start of this year, citing the difficulty of generating profits there.


The port of Rotterdam had another disappointing year for bunker sales, with volumes slipping by 2.5% to a record-low 9.9 million cu m (about 9.4 million mt). But the Dutch hub still overtook Fujairah to retake its place as the world’s second-largest port for bunker sales.

Fuel oil sales dropped by 2.7%, while marine gasoil and marine diesel oil sales together slipped by 2%. Marine lubricant sales remained buoyant, rising for a second year and gaining 3.5%.

The port separately published LNG bunker sales figures for the first time, saying demand jumped to 1,500 mt last year from just 100 mt in 2016.


Fujairah saw the biggest drop in demand of any major bunker port last year as the Qatari diplomatic crisis displaced buyers away from the UAE hub.

Traders estimate bunker sales slipped to 8-9 million mt in 2017 from 11-12 million mt the previous year, knocking Fujairah down slightly below Rotterdam’s total.

Sanctions on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt since June have prevented Qatari-owned and flagged vessels from bunkering at Fujairah until further notice, weighing significantly on demand.

The Saudi-led bloc accused Qatar of backing militant groups and questioned its links with Iran.

Industry sources say demand has mostly shifted to Singapore, but other ports including Salalah, Bandar Abbas and Gibraltar are also thought to have benefited. Meanwhile Qatar has moved towards reducing its reliance on overseas bunkering by offering a ship-to-ship fuel bunkering facility.

But the Middle Eastern hub is likely to regain its second-place spot in the coming years, as its demand outlook is set to recover sharply as the diplomatic situation improves.
Source: Platts