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SINGAPORE: Asia’s 0.5% very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) front-month time spread slipped to a three-week low of 50 cents a tonne on Thursday as ample rising supplies and sluggish bunker demand weighed on sentiment, trade sources said.

Competitive bunker prices in regional ports including South Korea and China’s Zhoushan has diverted some bunker demand away from Singapore, the sources said.

Meanwhile, Singapore residual fuel oil inventories rose to their highest in nearly five months in the week ended April 21, as elevated net import volumes pushed stocks 4% higher on-week while notching a fourth straight weekly gain, official data showed on Thursday.

Onshore fuel oil stocks climbed by 855,000 barrels, or about 135,000 tonnes, to 24.813 million barrels, or 3.908 million tonnes, Enterprise Singapore data showed.

Compared with last year, Singapore’s residual fuel stocks were 11% higher, marking the biggest year-on-year surplus in four months.

A surge in arbitrage flows into the Singapore hub in March and April helped lift fuel oil stocks away from a near 1-1/2-year low in February.

Refinitiv Oil Research assessed fuel oil flows into East Asia at 5.2 to 5.8 million tonnes in April, slightly lower to the 6.2 million tonnes seen in March but well above the 2020 monthly average of 4.68 million tonnes.

Singapore fuel oil net imports slipped 18% in the week to Wednesday to 964,000 tonnes, down from an eight-month high in the previous week but were well above the 2021 weekly average of 832,000 tonnes, the data showed. Weekly figures, however, are volatile.

The largest net imports were from Malaysia, at 335,000 tonnes, followed by Brazil with 202,000 tonnes, Iraq with 198,000 tonnes and Mexico with 98,000 tonnes.

Singapore imports from Iraq were at a four-month high while imports from Brazil were at a three-month peak.

Singapore’s top fuel oil net exports destinations were South Korea at 88,000 tonnes, India at 42,000 tonnes and New Caledonia at 36,000 tonnes.

South Korean imports from Singapore have firmed since the beginning of March, averaging 92,000 tonnes per week. Compared with the same period last year, South Korea was instead an exporter averaging 5,000 tonnes per week.

The exports to South Korea likely included straight-run fuel oil for use in refining, trade sources said. Total Singapore fuel oil exports were at a five-week low of 267,000 tonnes.

India’s MRPL has offered 40,000 tonnes of VLSFO with a maximum 0.5% sulphur content loading over May 10-12 from New Mangalore in a tender closing on April 26.

Pakistan’s PSO is sesheeking up to 185,000 of fuel oil for delivery in June through three tenders. In two tenders, PSO is seeking 65,000 tonnes each of 180-cst high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO)with a maximum 3.5% sulphur content for June 1-15 and June 16-30 delivery. The tenders close on April 26 and May 14, respectively, with three days validity.

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