Price differential between low and high sulphur fuel down to $34 per ton at Europe’s largest bunkering hub

The price differential between shipping’s main two fuels at Europe’s largest bunkering port, Rotterdam, stands at just $34 per ton, one tenth of what the difference was at the start of the year.

The Hi5, as the price differential between low and high sulphur fuel oil is termed in the bunkering industry, had ducked below $50 per ton at Rotterdam for the first time earlier this week before a further narrowing of prices yesterday.

Elsewhere, the Hi5 is narrowing too with the average price differential among the top 20 bunkering ports in the world, as tracked by Ship&Bunker, standing at just $55 per ton, a far cry from the $343 peak difference recorded at the end of the first week of January this year.

The dramatic drop in prices for very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) combined with the rapidly worsening outlook for the world economy in recent weeks has seen many shipowners shelve scrubber retrofit projects.

In terms of gross tons, as of April 3, 14.9% of the global shipping fleet had been fitted with a scrubber, according to data from Clarkson Research Services.

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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