Bunker prices near all-time highs

The cost of bunker fuel for the majority of commercial ships trading today is just $10.75 per tonne away from the all-time highs recorded in July 2008 with shipping warned to expect high fuel bills for the duration of 2022 and into next year.

With the price of crude edging close to $100 per barrel in recent days, spurred higher by the possibility of conflict between Russia and Ukraine, bunker prices have been soaring, with a tonne of very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) yesterday going for $748 in Singapore, the world’s top bunkering hub. The price gap between low and high sulphur content fuel has also shot up above $200 per tonne in Singapore in recent days.

Back in the summer of 2008, a couple of months ahead of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the global financial crisis, the average price for IFO 380 fuel, then the dominant shipping fuel, at the world’s top four bunkering hubs averaged $739.25. Today’s VLSFO prices at the same four ports – as tracked by Ship&Bunker – stand at $728.50 per tonne.

“The projected divergent trends in high and low sulphur marine fuels suggests that the VLSFO – 380 Cst spread could well rise widen from today’s $210/mt (basis Singapore) level going forward,” new analysis from BRS this week predicts.

The global fuel mix for shipping is also changing thanks to the sky high prices for LNG.

Data from Integr8 Fuels shows how LNG has lost its price competitiveness to marine gasoil (MGO) – and thus to a greater extent VLSFO – resulting in LNG vessel operators minimising the use of boil-off, which has now more value as cargo, and increasing purchases of VLSFO and MGO.

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.


  1. We are witnessing demand destruction at this prices. Firm inquires dropped about 10% month over month.
    Unsustainable at these levels, except you are running a container ship.

Back to top button