Singapore bunker fuel sales rise 8.5 pct in April on lower prices

SINGAPORE, May 13 (Reuters) - Singapore marine fuel sales rose nearly 8.5 percent in April from March, as a steep drop in outright prices swelled refuelling demand from ships arriving in Asia's largest oil trading hub, official data showed on Monday. Total sales volumes for April were 3.647 million tonnes up from the previous month's sales of 3.362 million, data from the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) showed. Tanker arrivals into Singapore, for the sole purpose of bunkering, rose 3.85 percent in April to 3,236 versus the previous month. "We had a significant price drop in the first half of April, and this really pulled in demand for refuelling in Singapore," a Singapore-based marine fuels trader said. "There was also some supply tightness in places like Fujairah, and North Asia, and that just added to the number of ships calling here." The outright price for the Singapore marine fuels benchmark 380-centistoke (cst) between April 1 and 18 fell $42.50 a tonne to $592.50 a tonne, which was also the lowest price for the month, Reuters data showed. This drop was triggered by a plunge in global crude oil benchmarks in April, following a slew of negative economic data from the world's largest oil consumers, the United States and China. Brent crude was down nearly 7 percent on the month, while U.S. oil was 3.9 percent lower. Total sales of 380-cst in Singapore rose 8 percent on the month to 2.713 million tonnes, while sales of the lower viscosity 180-cst jumped nearly 19.5 percent to 94,200 tonnes from the prior month, according to official data. Higher demand and pockets of tightness resulting from a shortage of on specification fuel, due to a shortage of low-density blending components, lifted the premium for wholesale marine fuels of the 380-cst benchmark blend to as high as $10 a tonne in April from around $3 to $5 a tonne in March. (Reporting by Luke Pachymuthu; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)