Bunker price spread edges into double-digit territory

The average price spread between low and high sulphur fuel at the world’s four largest bunkering hubs ducked into double-digit territory for the first time today.

Bunker prices continued to decline today, although not in the sensational manner they fell back on Monday where prices fell by record numbers.

In Rotterdam, the price spread between the two dominant fuels is now around $80 per tonne, and in Singapore, the world’s top bunkering hub, the price spread edged towards $100 today. The narrowing of prices has been dramatic, standing at more than $300 per tonne just two months ago.

Writing in his regular Monday column, Mark Williams, the founder of UK-based Shipping Strategy, noted of the slumping crude prices: “Spare a thought too for ship owners who have invested in scrubbers; what will happen to the vital margin between 3.5% Sulphur and 0.5% Sulphur fuel oil? As gasoil prices slump, the economics of scrubbing evaporate.”

Scrubber proponents in the run up to the global sulphur cap had earmarked $150 as the minimum price spread to ensure a quick return on their investments.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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