Operators of Russian bunker market gather in Saint Petersburg annually in June to discuss the problems in the industry, exchange opinions about current events and to look in the future.
This year spirits can't be considered bright - for the first time in its history the market significantly reduced, by 12.5%. Vitaliy Kovalev, President of the Russian Association of Marine and River Bunker Suppliers, considers the previous year the hardest for bunkering businesses ever. Negative trends are strengthening, he emphasized. Several independent companies previously recognized as successful and respected cancelled operations during last months. Several firms suspended activities waiting for better times.
The total sales of bunker fuel in 2015 in Russia were only 3.5% of the world market, 14.79 million tons (-13%) including North-West of Russia - 4.15 million tons (-13%), Far East - 6.7 million tons (-17%), Southern Russia - 3.4 million tons (-1%), inland waters - 680 thousand tons (-13.5%).
The structure of sales in the Baltic Sea has also changed. Recently 90% of all fuel sold was mazut and only 10% -light fuel. Now the share of fuel oil dropped to 55%, share of light fuel – raise to 30% and 15% of all fuel types are new products with ultra-low sulphur content.
St. Petersburg port, the largest in North-West of Russia, lost 17% of its bunkering market. It happened due to reduction of container and Ro-Ro cargoes traffic and other hi-tech services which previously were in high demand. The price gap between Rotterdam and Saint Petersburg dropped from 36% to 21% and obviously brought negative effect to competitive strength of Petersburg bunkering services.
Far Eastern region previously known for its rapid growth suffered from the sharp drop of motor fuel sales in 2015 and first half of 2016. Vladivostok port reported a triple drop of sales in January - April 2016, an absolute negative record. It was caused by general economic situation as well as by additional pressure of authorities on businesses. Attractive prices always were the main competitive advantage of Russian ports. However, it reduced significantly in our days. More to that, in December light fuel prices were higher than in Singapore by $50 - 60 per ton. Governmental efforts to suppress illegal oil export camouflaged as stock replacements were finally successful - now custom bodies calculate the amount of fuel necessary for the vessel by themselves which severely damaged bunkering services to transit ships which previously brought significant revenues.
Azov and Black Sea ports were less effected by the world market trends. The difference between prices in Novorossiysk, Piraeus and Istanbul remained significant enough to cause market drop of 1% only.
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