Japan sold 2.64 million barrels of bonded bunker fuel in March, up 13.5% from February and up 10.3% year on year, according to data released Wednesday by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
The sales volume recorded for March is a 16-month high, with METI’s historical data showing that bonded bunker fuel sales were last higher in November 2016, at 443,896 kiloliters or 2.79 million barrels.
In mid-March, according to a source close to JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy, Japan was experiencing strong bunker demand, so much so that the refiner had to temporarily stop accepting fresh bunker fuel orders at its Mizushima plant in west Japan until the end of March.
Meanwhile, METI data released Wednesday also showed that Japan’s bonded marine diesel oil segment recorded a decline in sales in March, with the volume down 26.4% from February to 10,256 kiloliters or 64,510 barrels. This is a nine-month low for bonded MDO sales.
METI’s historical data showed that bonded MDO sales were last lower in June 2017, at 10,041 kiloliters or 63,158 barrels. On a year-on-year basis, MDO sales were down 35.5%.
METI statistics also showed there were no imports of bonded bunker fuel oil in March. Japan last imported bonded bunker fuel oil in June 2017, when 5,063 kiloliters or 31,845 barrels were brought in.
Bonded bunker fuel is exempt from import tax and can be sold only to ships plying international routes.