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New supertankers carrying gasoil west hits record

Ship builders in Asia are sending a record number of supertankers west carrying middle distillate oil products, such as diesel, data intelligence firm Vortexa quoted as saying on Thursday, adding more volumes might follow. Very large crude carriers (VLCC) often carry refined, or clean, oil products on their maiden journey before switching to crude oil.

Vortexa pointed to data showing 15 VLCCs have already been delivered this year and a further eight were expected by the end of March. This activity coincided with falling middle distillates stocks in Europe and rising stocks in Asia, making westward journeys attractive for shippers. Three new-built VLCCs carrying middle distillates, the Olympic Laurel, the Dijilah and the Ascona, are currently off the coast of Lome after sailing from Asia, according to Refinitiv shipping data, Vortexa and traders.

Port growth to level off over next decade

Volume growth will continue for ports throughout the world but at a more modest pace over the next 10 years, according to a new Fitch Ratings report.

Global port throughput growth has outpaced economic growth rates over the last 10 years, with containerisation of cargo and increasing vessel sizes coupled with supporting infrastructure at ports all contributing to growth. However, growth rates are slowing relative to historical averages as these trends mature, and volume growth, while expected to continue, will likely more closely mirror that of global GDP. An increase in protectionist trade policies, shifts in centres of production, and the advent of disruptive technologies add further complexity in considering future throughput levels.

Asian traders stockpiling low sulfur fuels

Singapore-based companies have started preparing to supply marine fuel with maximum 0.5percent sulfur by taking VLCCs as floating storage. Around 1 million mt of components to make 0.5 percent sulfur fuel are floating offshore Malaysia and Singapore, market sources quoted as saying.

International Maritime Organization regulations mean the global cap on sulfur content in bunker fuel will be cut to 0.5percent from January 1, 2020, from the current 3.5percent. The majority of bunker fuel demand was expected to shift to low sulfur fuel oil or marine gasoil for what is widely called IMO 2020. VLCCs have found favor with traders looking to store low sulfur components due, in part, to the vessels having onboard heating facilities — low sulfur components in Asia typically have a high pour point, which requires these materials to have heating facilities in the supply chain.

 

Iran hunts for more ships to keep its oil flowing

Iran is discreetly scouring the globe for second-hand oil tankers to replace its ageing fleet and keep crucial crude exports flowing as US sanctions start to bite, Iranian and Western sources said.

Since US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions in November, exploratory talks with South Korea for up to 10 new supertankers have stalled, Panama has removed at least 21 Iranian tankers from its registry and Tehran is now looking for extra vessels in places such as Vietnam, the sources said. Washington has put restrictions on Iran’s port, energy and shipping sectors but it has given waivers to the country’s eight biggest oil customers, which include China, India and Japan, so they can keep buying Iranian crude. With oil exports accounting for an estimated 70 percent of Iran’s revenues, maintaining an effective fleet of tankers to store and move that oil is crucial for Tehran.

Lower refuelling traffic sinks singapore marine fuel sales

Sales of marine fuels in Singapore, Asia’s biggest ship fuelling port, fell to a three-year low in February of 3.78 million tonnes, down 8.6 percent from a year earlier, data from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) showed on Wednesday.

The February volume was 10 percent lower than January when 4.199 million tonnes were sold. The number of ships that called in February at Singapore for refuelling, also called bunkering, fell 10.3 percent from January to a six-month low of 3,180 ships. However, bunkering calls in February were up 2.8 percent from a year earlier. The lower bunkering traffic in February was attributed to the Lunar New Year holidays in China and parts of Asia during the month, the fewer calendar days in February and possibly lower overall shipping traffic from the U.S.-China trade tensions, two trade sources said.

Shipping needs to set timelines now to be IMO 2020 compliant

There should be an urgency now among various players in the shipping industry, including shipowners and charterers, to plan for the International Maritime Organization’s global sulfur limit rule as the 2020 deadline is fast approaching and transition will be challenging, Rajiv Nigam, general manager, technical services group at Wilhelmsen Ship Management, quoted as saying last week.

The IMO will cap global sulfur content in marine fuels at 0.5 percent from January 1 next year, down from 3.5 percent currently. This applies outside the designated emission control areas where the limit is already 0.1 percent.

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