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SINGAPORE: Asia’s 0.5% very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) refining margin edged higher on Thursday, climbing closer to a near two-year high hit earlier in the week, on concerns of tight finished-grade supplies of the fuel and as crude prices weakened.

The front-month VLSFO crack climbed to $17.87 a barrel above Dubai crude on Thursday, up from $17.39 a barrel in the previous session and near a two-year high of $17.99 on Tuesday, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

This came as Singapore residual fuel oil inventories fell 5% in the week to Jan. 19, slipping from a near two-month high in the previous week as net import volumes shrank, official data showed on Thursday.

Onshore fuel oil stocks fell by 1.14 million barrels, or about 180,000 tonnes, to a two-week low of 21.2 million barrels, or 3.34 million tonnes, in the week to Wednesday, Enterprise Singapore data showed.

The weekly inventories were down 4% from year-ago levels and below the 2021 weekly average of 22.48 million barrels.

This came as Singapore fuel oil net imports dropped to a three-week low of 312,000 tonnes in the week to Wednesday, down 60% from the previous week and well below the 2021 weekly average of 660,000 tonnes. Weekly figures, however, are volatile.

The largest net imports were from the floating storage hub of Malaysia at 188,000 tonnes, followed by the United Arab Emirates at 107,000 tonnes, 49,000 tonnes from Denmark and 33,000 tonnes from Indonesia.

The top net export destinations for Singapore fuel oil were Bangladesh at 51,000 tonnes, followed by the Philippines at 45,000 tonnes and India at 40,000 tonnes.

Fuel oil flows into East Asia, most of which come to Singapore, are expected at between 4.5 million tonnes and 5 million tonnes in January, steady from December’s inflows of 5 million tonnes, the latest assessments by Refinitiv Oil Research showed.

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