China’s exports of low-sulphur marine fuels in 2022 fell 6.2% from the previous year, in line with lower ship refuelling demand across main global bunkering ports, reports Nasdaq.
Exports of very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), which has a maximum sulphur content of 0.5% to comply with emission rules set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), were at 18.05 million tonnes, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Friday.
That compares with 19.19 million tonnes in 2021, when China’s refiners ramped up production capacity on ambition to become a regional hub for supplies of ship fuel, also known as bunker fuel.
Analysts from the Longzhong consultancy expected China’s LSFO output to have been 15.10 million tonnes in 2022, up 32.5% from 2021.
China’s COVID lockdowns in 2022 weighed on its economic growth, though its recent reopening measures could help to lift shipping and transport demand.
“It’s possible that Chinese demand for marine fuels will rebound in 2023 as the economy begins to recover,” said Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and chief executive officer of consultancy Container xChange.
“Container shipping is a key industry for China, so any uptick in activity would be likely to drive up demand for bunkering services.”
Decline in exports
A decline in China’s annual exports, measured mostly by sales from bonded storage for vessels plying international routes, was in line with lower sales volumes at other top bunkering hubs.
Bunker sales at Singapore fell 4.3% to 47.9 million tonnes in 2022, while volumes at the United Arab Emirates’ Fujairah eased 1.5% to about 7.7 million tonnes, on slower economic activity.
China’s December VLSFO exports were at 1.1 million tonnes, down 12.9% year-on-year.
Meanwhile, total fuel oil imports in December surged to 1.8 million tonnes. The increase was led by imports into bonded storage, which includes both high-sulphur and low-sulphur materials, at 1.4 million tonnes.
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