Cargo ship arrivals in Singapore plunge to 27-year low in May

The number of cargo ships calling at Singapore's ports fell last month to 3,059, the lowest since at least 1993, while sales of marine fuels declined to a three-month low.
The number of cargo ships calling at Singapore's ports fell last month to 3,059, the lowest since at least 1993, while sales of marine fuels declined to a three-month low.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Cargo ship arrivals in Singapore, the world's top transshipment and bunkering hub, plummeted to their lowest in nearly three decades last month, while dragging sales of marine fuels to a three-month low, official data showed.

As the coronavirus pandemic hit global trade, the number of cargo ships calling at the Republic's ports fell last month to 3,059, the lowest since at least January 1993, the oldest available figure, data from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) showed.

Shipping activity may stay sluggish as container ship activity and bunkering demand remain weak this month, analysts and traders said.

Blank sailings, which is when a vessel skips a port on its route or the entire journey is cancelled, surged in the first week of this month, with the total pandemic-induced blanked capacity nearing four million twenty-foot equivalent units, shipping analysis firm Sea-Intelligence said last week.

On Sunday, Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said the pace of planned extensions to Singapore's ports would depend on future demand as the pandemic batters the country's trade-reliant economy.

Slowing trade activity has also weighed on marine refuelling, or bunkering, activity in the Singapore hub. "Covid-19 finally caught up in terms of bunker trend," said a bunker fuel trader based in the city state.

Singapore's bunker fuel sales volumes last month dropped to 3.925 million tonnes, down 2 per cent from last year and 5 per cent from April, MPA data showed.

Average bunker loadings fell to a five-month low last month at 1,206 tonnes a ship, down from 1,285 tonnes in April and 1,208 tonnes last year, Reuters calculations showed.

Marine fuel sales in Singapore totalled 20.76 million tonnes this year, up 5 per cent from last year but lower than the record 21.43 million tonnes sold in the first five months of 2018.

REUTERS

 
 
 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2020, with the headline 'Cargo ship arrivals in S'pore plunge to 27-year low in May'. Print Edition | Subscribe