Fuel Switch Snapshot: VLSFO Holds Firm

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  • High demand and low stocks make VLSFO resilient to Brent
  • Rising concerns of supply disruption drive LNG prices higher
  • Bio-bunker premium over conventional VLSFO narrows further

Rotterdam’s price premium of LNG over HSFO has increased by $7/mt to $9/mt, after a modest rise in the price of LNG in the past week. HSFO remains the cheapest fuel alternative in Rotterdam, reads an Engine release.

When the estimated EU ETS cost is included in the bunker fuel costs for voyages between the EU and a non-EU port, Rotterdam LNG’s $4/mt discount to HSFO has flipped to a $4/mt premium in the past week. For a ship sailing from Rotterdam to another EU port with estimated EU ETS costs included, LNG now has only a $1/mt price advantage over its HSFO, compared to $9/mt the week prior.

LNG’s discount to B24-VLSFO in Rotterdam has narrowed even further by $18/mt in the past week, even when estimated EU ETS costs are added to the price. Rotterdam’s LNG is priced at $210-221/mt discount to its B24-VLSFO.

Rotterdam’s B24-VLSFO premium over pure VLSFO has dropped even further by $13-14/mt over the past week, to $87-109/mt.

VLSFO

Rotterdam’s VLSFO benchmark has inched lower by $1/mt in the past week, despite a $30/mt decline in front-month ICE Brent futures. When the price of Dec24 EU Allowances (EUAs) for voyages between two EU ports is added to the VLSFO price, the overall price decreases by $5/mt.

VLSFO demand in Rotterdam has remained steady in the past week, sources told ENGINE. Two traders have reported strong VLSFO demand in the port. Availability is mostly normal, but securing the grade for very prompt dates (0-2 days) can be difficult, the sources added.

The ARA region’s independently held fuel oil stocks have averaged 5% lower so far this month than across March, according to Insights Global data.

Steady demand in Rotterdam and a drop in the wider ARA region’s fuel inventories seem to have supported the benchmark’s resistance against Brent’s downward pull.

Singapore’s VLSFO benchmark has seen a modest $3-5/mt decrease in the past week, depending on whether the price is adjusted with the estimated EUA price for a voyage to an EU port.

Demand for bigger VLSFO stems seems to have increased in Singapore. ENGINE recorded 15 VLSFO stems in Singapore in the wide price band of $634-653/mt. Three 1,500 mt stems were priced in the lower price band between $634-648/mt and seven 500-1,500 mt stems were priced between $643-649/mt.

Biofuels

Rotterdam’s B24-VLSFO HBE bunker price has moved $15-18/mt lower in the past week, to $719-790/mt, depending on whether the fuel is estimated to be consumed on a voyage to an EU port or not.

PRIMA-assessed palm oil mill effluent methyl ester (POMEME) in the ARA dropped by $72/mt on the week, which has put downward pressure on bio-bunker prices in Rotterdam. POMEME-based biofuels are eligible for Dutch advanced biofuel (HBE) rebates.

Singapore’s B24-VLSFO UCOME bunker price has inched only $2-3/mt lower to $761-796/mt.

Prompt bio-bunker availability is tight in Singapore, two sources say. This has partly prevented prices of the most sought-after biofuel blend, B24-VLSFO UCOME, from dropping steeply in the past week.

LNG

Rotterdam’s LNG bunker benchmark has remained roughly steady in the past week.

Concerns that European LNG supply could be disrupted if the Middle East conflict escalates further and the possibility of a Hormuz Strait blockade by Iran have kept the price afloat. The Strait of Hormuz plays a crucial role in LNG transportation. Qatar alone accounts for around 20% of global LNG trade passing through this choke point.

Singapore’s LNG bunker prices has seen a significant rise of $35-37/mt in the past week. This is because the NYMEX Japan/Korea contract rolled from May to a higher-priced June contract last week, which has raised the JKM benchmark.

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Source: Engine