China’s exports of clean marine fuels in December rose to a record since shipments began a year ago, taking 2020 exports of the ship fuel to 15.45 million tonnes, customs data showed on Wednesday.
Chinese oil refineries began exporting very low-sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) in January to comply with emission rules set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), after Beijing granted tax incentives to boost local production to help create a regional bunkering hub.
In December, exports of VLSFO, with a maximum sulphur content of 0.5%, were 2.47 million tonnes, data from the General Administration of Customs showed, nearly double the volume in November.
Fuel oil imports into bonded storage, which includes both high-sulphur and low-sulphur materials, were 1.03 million tonnes in December, steady to November, and annual imports totalled 11.48 million tonnes.
China has 16 licenced firms supplying bonded marine fuel along its coast, including about a dozen based in the eastern port of Zhoushan, the country’s top bunkering centre.
Despite a surge in domestic production, companies maintained imports of less expensive low-sulphur cargoes from Singapore for re-export.
In late December, China issued 5 million tonnes of clean marine fuel export quotas in the first release for 2021 to five companies including private refiner Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp.
The table below shows China’s fuel oil imports and exports in metric tonnes.
The column of exports largely captures China’s VLSFO bunkering sales along its coast.