Singapore has once again set a new annual record for bunker sales, while Gibraltar has reported that bunker calls and supply volumes grew for the second year running in 2016. Besides achieving growth in bunker sales during a year of significant global headwinds, these ports have something else in common; an emphasis on improving bunkering standards through codes of good practice and regulations of their respective bunker sectors.
The attention given to the bunker industry in these two ports is perhaps not surprising given how important it is to their respective economies. As such, their respective port authorities seek to support and enhance the sector. Perhaps the growth in bunker sales means these bunkering hubs are reaping rewards for their focus on offering quality of service?
Bunker sales volumes in both ports were helped by a growth in the number of ships calling overall, and by promoting their status as maritime centres offering a full range of services to ships.
Marine fuel sales in the Port of Singapore grew 7.7% to 48.6 million tonnes in 2016, surpassing the 2015 record of 45.2 million tonnes, according data released earlier this month by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA). MPA also reported a 6.3% increase in vessel arrival tonnage increased compared to 2015, reaching 2.66 billion gross tonnes (GT) while total cargo tonnage handled in 2016 increased by 3.0% to reach 593.3 million tonnes.
Gibraltar no longer publishes its bunker sales figures, but the Gibraltar Port Authority (GPA) said 2016 was ”another year of growth across most areas of activity” against the backdrop of a slowdown in global economic activity, overcapacity in shipping across the world, and stiff regional competition.
Observers will keep a keen eye on Singapore in 2017 to see if the port’s introduction of mandatory use of mass flow metering (MFM) systems for deliveries of marine fuel oil will have an impact on bunker sales volumes. Using the MFM technology rather than manual methods for measuring delivered quantity is expected to enhance efficiency by saving time during bunkering operations, and reduce scope for quantity disputes.
If, as some predict, global bunker sales will be largely stagnant in 2017, any increase in key bunkering hubs like Singapore will come at the expense of sales volumes in other ports.
If Singapore is seen to attract even more business in 2017, the take-up of MFMs in other ports may accelerate.