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SINGAPORE: Asia’s front-month high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) viscosity spread climbed to a near two-month high on Thursday amid tight HSFO supplies, particularly for the lower viscosity fuel due to strong demand from utilities.

The front-month viscosity spread climbed to $18.75 per tonne on Thursday, up $3 from the previous session, and its highest since Oct. 14, according to Refinitiv data in Eikon.

Despite a surge in net import volumes, Singapore residual fuel oil inventories dropped 11% in the week ended Sept. 15, giving up most of the previous weeks’ sharp gains, official data showed on Thursday.

Onshore fuel oil stocks fell by 2.85 million barrels, or about 448,000 tonnes, to a two-week low of 21.3 million barrels, or 3.35 million tonnes, according to Enterprise Singapore data.

The residual fuel stocks were on par with year-ago levels but were below the 2021 weekly average of 23.05 million barrels.

In the week to Sept. 8, fuel oil stockpiles jumped 17% to a seven-week high of 24.15 million barrels, or 3.8 million tonnes.

The latest inventories declines came despite a near threefold increase in Singapore’s weekly net import volumes, which surged to a more than one-year high of 1.2 million tonnes. Weekly figures, however, are volatile.

Fuel oil flows into East Asia, most of which come to Singapore, were expected between 4.5 million tonnes and 5 million tonnes in September compared with 4.75 million tonnes in August, according to Refinitiv Oil Research.

“The steady (to) higher inflows may alleviate ongoing supply tightness in Asia, with timespreads easing from week-ago levels,” Refinitiv Oil Research said.

“Supply tightness for fuel oil is seen easing slightly due to dampening demand for Black Sea straight-run barrels by (US Gulf) refineries, who are struggling to resume production in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.”

Vitol bought 20,000 tonnes of 380-cst high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) from Total in the Singapore trading window. No 0.5% very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) cargo trades were reported.

Thailand’s Thaioil sold a 28,000 tonne VLSFO cargo loading from Sriracha over Sept. 28-30 to Shell at a discount of about $3-$4 per tonne to Singapore quotes on an FOB basis.

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