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Marine fuel sales fall at UAE's Fujairah in 2023, third largest bunker hub

(Reuters) - Sales of marine fuel at the United Arab Emirates' Fujairah dropped by 7.1% in 2023, data showed, though the port retained its position as the world's third largest bunker hub.

The decline coincided with increased risk linked to war in the Middle East that has raised war insurance premiums, while competitive pricing lured some bunker demand to neighboring port Khor Fakkan that saw a rise in volumes last year. 

Fujairah bunker sales, excluding lubricants, totaled 7,476,283 cubic meters (about 7.4 million metric tons) in 2023, Fujairah Oil Industry Zone data published by industry information service provider S&P Global Commodity Insights showed.

Low-sulfur marine fuel sales, including low-sulfur fuel oils (LSFO) and marine gasoils (MGO), fell 12.4% from the previous year to about 5.6 million tons in 2023, Reuters calculations based on the data showed.

Sales of high-sulfur fuel oils (HSFO) were higher at about 1.8 million tons in 2023, up 14.3% from 2022, bringing the market share of high-sulfur bunkers in Fujairah to 24% in 2023 compared with 20% in 2022, based on the data. 

This was in line with higher HSFO bunker demand globally, as more scrubber-fitted vessels came online last year and could opt to refuel with HSFO as a cheaper alternative to LSFO. 

Compared to other bunker hubs, Fujairah retained its position in the world, following Singapore's first and Rotterdam's second position, though the gap has narrowed sharply with fourth-placed Zhoushan in China.

China's Zhoushan bunker volumes hit 7.04 million tons in 2023, according to a notice from the Zhoushan Marine Fuel Association. Singapore's bunker volumes reached a record high.

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