Which events affect bunker prices?


In March 2020, bunker prices fell to as low as 20$, and then last week prices sky rocketed to over 70$! But why?


In this blog, we will look at some of the key factors that affect these prices.


Before we do, here are some important points to note:

  • The index price is calculated according to a "barrel" of fuel, so a price increase of 1$ actually amounts to about a 7-8$ increase on the price per metric ton (7.14 barrel in 1MT).

  • There are 2 main indexes that bunker prices are based on, Crude Oil WTI and Brent Oil. In short, it depends on the time zone of the market opening. Crude oil is traded during US opening hours based on the NY stock exchange, whereas Asia and Europe base their prices on Brent Oil which is traded according to the UK stock exchange.

(An article that explains the difference can be found here)


So what affects the prices?


1) Market optimism and pessimism

Prices are greatly affected by global events. The prices plunged as a result of the covid pandemic, however recent prices are increasing, most likely as a result of "optimism" towards the vaccination plan for covid, and the gradual re-opening of european tourism. Whilst there is an expectation for continued growth in the coming months and for increases in demand as the economy steadily opens back again, this could continue to be impacted by emerging variants and other global events.


2) OPEC meetings


The decision to tighten or increase production during an OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) meeting is also a strong trigger towards a price increase or drop. Often the prices will move ahead of, and in anticipation of, the meeting.


3) EIA reports


Energy Information Administration issues weekly petroleum status reports, which show the current stocks, production, spot prices and forecasts. These reports often give an indication of the likely market price and response.


4) Calendar events, such as public holidays


Fluctuations can often be caused by a long public holiday, when the bunker prices go up since the operator arranges shipments before the holidays and so the demand increases temporarily. However, it then drops back down and levels off during the holidays, since factories are often closed.


We hope you found this blog informative and useful. If you have any comments or queries about the information contained within the blog or if you would like more information, please contact copemer@copemer.com

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