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Singapore and Rotterdam see growth but bunker volumes dip sharply in Panama

Singapore has reported a “resilient” 2020 maritime performance despite Covid-19, with sales amounting to 49.8 million tonnes, an increase of 5.0% year-on-year. This keeps the south-east Asian hub solidly in the number one spot globally.

Port of Rotterdam
Port of Rotterdam

Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Transport, Chee Hong Tat, speaking at the Singapore Maritime Foundation New Year Conversations event in January, noted that container throughput in Singapore registered 36.9 million TEU in 2020, a slight decrease of 0.9% from 37.2 million TEU registered in 2019.


Chee noted the developments taking place in LNG bunkering at Singapore. “But,” he said, “there is scope to do more beyond LNG, such as in the areas of setting new standards and developing green solutions, associated with zero or low carbon fuels.”


He announced: “In the longer term, our target is to equip the Port of Singapore to supply a wide range of future, cleaner, fuels types, to meet the diverse needs of ships that choose to call here. These endeavours will not only help secure Singapore’s lead as a top bunkering hub, but also support the vision for a greener and more sustainable maritime ecosystem.


Meanwhile Rotterdam saw bunker deliveries increase to more than 9.6 million cubic metres in 2020, compared to slightly over 9 million cubic metres in 2019. The port noted in a statement: “Rotterdam remains Europe’s largest bunker port by far.”


According to the port: “The increase in bunker volumes was caused in part by the growing demand for ship fuels by container vessels. A combination of delays in container loops and higher capacity utilisation rates has increased average sailing speeds in this segment – which has led in turn to extra fuel consumption.”

It noted increased LNG bunkering: “LNG enjoyed substantial growth in 2020, to a total of over 0.2 million m³ – a 170% increase compared to the preceding year.

The first vessels of CMA CGM’s new series of LNG-powered 23,000 TEU container fleet have already been taken into operation, and are also taking in fuel in Rotterdam. Last year also saw the first cruise liners being supplied with LNG in the Dutch port. … Around ten LNG bunker vessels currently have a permit to supply LNG to ships calling on Rotterdam.”


In February, the Rotterdam Port Authority, on behalf of the Municipality of Rotterdam and “partly in response to an initiative taken within the bunkering sector”, introduced its Bunkering Permit licensing system. Initially 24 permits were issued to 24 companies, representing a fleet of 143 bunker vessels.


While volumes held up in Singapore and Rotterdam, sales dropped significantly at Panama, with particularly steep declines in November and December. Total bunker sales in 2020 amounted to 4.7 million tonnes, down 11.4% on 2019. The number of stems dropped 13.2% to 6,625 according to the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP). The local bunker fleet increased slightly in 2020 with an average of 34.6 bunker tankers operating each month up from 31.6 in 2019.


About three quarters of all bunkers supplied in Panama last year
were VLSFO.

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