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Bunker volumes worldwide and at individual ports are important figures, not just for bunker industry players, but also for the energy and shipping sectors along with broad-based concerns such as the environment.
Officially verified and regularly published bunker sales however, are available from just the top ports compared to the more than 220 ports worldwide that offer bunkering services.
Although these ports include hubs such as Rotterdam and Singapore which is the world's largest bunkering port, official published volumes from their port authorities constitute only between 10% and 20% of the global figure, depending on which estimates are being used.
According to Bunkerworld's Complete Guide to the Bunker Fuel Market 2008 which undertakes a comprehensive port by port analysis to come as close as possible to actual figures, global bunker consumption is often extrapolated from secondary evidence, such as the size of the world fleet.
“As a rule, figures based on the theoretical requirement of the world fleet are higher than those based on suppliers' estimates of their market share,” said the Complete Guide.
Among the figures published in 2007 was one from BP putting annual global demand at 200 million metric tonnes (mt) while the Institute of Physics and Atmosphere, again estimating based on world fleet size, calculated global demand at 280 million mt.
By the beginning of last year, Robin Meech of Marine and Energy Consulting estimated annual bunker sales at some 300 million mt, while INTERTANKO claimed that annual consumption was already approaching 400 million mt.
Aside from bunker industry players who require such data to plan and strategise business developments, oil producers and more so refiners would benefit from having exact demand figures since marine fuels are also petroleum derivatives.
Refineries constantly have to pre-determine their cracking operations, which require massive investment spending, and demand for residual fuel oil from the shipping industry is crucial to their business strategies and refining.
In terms of an individual port's actual bunker sales volumes, both suppliers and buyers will tweak and develop their operations and requirements according to how the figures grow or shrink.
Actual growth or decline in bunker demand at a port must be confirmed first, before influencing factors can be established, and at the very least many bunker suppliers would like to know their market share accurately.
Aside from the energy and shipping markets, regulatory concerns would also benefit from consistently published bunker sales volumes at every port.
Proposed market-based mechanisms such as a bunker levy or a carbon emissions trading scheme for example, would benefit from having verifiable data to back-up transparency and accuracy of calculations.
In light of these considerations, and others both from within and outside the bunker industry itself, do you think all ports should regularly publish their bunker sales volumes?
The world of bunkery remains th only mouth instrument upon which the lower class and middle class has a say in the huge oil bussiness transactions.