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SINGAPORE: Asia’s cash premiums for 380-cst high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) climbed on Friday, surging to a more than two-year high and posting their second consecutive weekly jump amid strong demand and tight supplies.

The cash differentials for 380-cst HSFO surged to a premium of $21.50 per tonne to Singapore quotes, compared with $20.75 per tonne a day earlier.

The premiums have more than doubled this week, while Singapore’s onshore fuel oil stocks dropped to a three-month low of 20.9 million barrels, or 3.1 million tonnes, in the week to March 30..

The cash differentials for 180-cst HSFO rose to $25.86 per tonne to Singapore quotes on Friday, posting a rise of 139% this week.

The front-month barge crack for 380-cst HSFO traded at a discount of $9.50 a barrel to Brent on Friday, compared with minus $12.90 a barrel on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the front-month VLSFO crack fell to $22.68 per barrel against Dubai crude during Asian trading hours, compared with $23.41 per barrel in the previous session.

Cash premiums for Asia’s 0.5% VLSFO dropped to $20.16 a tonne to Singapore quotes on Friday, down from $22.60 per barrel on Thursday.

A major bunker fuel contamination has affected at least 14 shipping vessels that received high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) from Singapore, fuel and oil testing firm Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) said.

The company said an increasing number of ships were getting affected by the tainted bunker fuel after 34 vessels were identified to have received HSFO deliveries from two unnamed Singapore suppliers over the last two months that were contaminated with up to 2,000 parts per million (ppm) of chlorinated hydrocarbons.

“The impact has been failure of the fuel system to the auxiliary engine resulting in loss of power and propulsion creating a blackout,” VPS said in a document seen by Reuters.

Fuel oil stocks held independently in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) refining and storage hub dropped 10.8% to 873,000 tonnes in the week to March 31, data from Dutch consultancy Insights Global showed.

The data showed ARA gasoil inventories fell 3.8% to 1.6 million tonnes.

President Joe Biden on Thursday launched the largest release ever from the US emergency oil reserve and challenged oil companies to drill more in an attempt to bring down gasoline prices that have soared during Russia’s war with Ukraine.

Oil prices fell on Friday ahead of a meeting of International Energy Agency (IEA) member nations set to discuss a release of emergency oil reserves alongside a huge planned release by the United States.

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