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Brunei Times: Shell, Exxon expand business in Asia

09-Oct-06

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL will extend its marine fuels business to all main ports in China expecting double-digit expansion, but rival Exxon Mobil will sustain its growth through Hong Kong and Singapore, senior executives from the oil majors said.

Loh Wai Kiew, chief executive of Shell Marine Products Ltd, said the European major, which launched its shipping fuel business in Shanghai earlier this year, will expand it to China’s 15 other ports as the firm sees continued growth in Asian shipping volumes.

She said Shell is also relocating its global marine fuels headquarters to Singapore from London to be nearer its customers and to plug into the main growth area for the sector.

“We expect nothing less than double-digit growth in China and we have forecast compounded growth of 24percent till 2015. We will strengthen our presence in Shanghai and eventually spread to all the 15 other main ports in the country,” Ms Loh said.

“Also, most of the newbuild vessels are coming from the East. About 70per cent of these newbuilds are Asian-flagged vessels belonging to international shipping companies.”

The newbuilds include all classes of vessels from 2000 tonnes and above.

Shell has forged a partnership with China’s Chimbusco a joint-venture between Chinese major PetroChina and Cosco Group which has majority share of the bunker market. Some of Chimbusco’s share had been eroded by at least three other new firms affiliated to Sinopec and PetroChina.

China’s annual marine fuel sales volume is estimated at a tiny 2.5 million tonnes, equivalent to about a month’s total in Singapore, the largest bunkering port in the world.

Shippers have been reluctant to take bunkers in China due to a lack of price transparency the market trades on prices posted by Chimbusco. When asked if Shell’s entry into China will boost price transparency, Ms Loh said they were working on the building blocks.

Taking a different approach, Exxon Mobil Corp is focused on developing its business in Singapore and Hong Kong, rather than venturing directly into China’s marine fuels market.

“Our main focus for trade into China is through Hong Kong. Singapore is by far the biggest port in the world and saw steady growth of 8per cent to 9per cent over the last few years. We are confident that this growth will be sustained,” said Andy Wescoat, Exxon Mobil’s Global Director of Marine Fuels

He said Exxon Mobil sells about six million tonnes of fuel oil in Asia annually, with most of the growth coming from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Exxon Mobil has just started selling the more economical 500-centistoke grade in Hong Kong this month and is confident of seeing steady growth, Mr Wescoat added.

The oil major is the largest supplier of the grade in Singapore, with about 70percent to 80per cent market share. The city-state is the largest supplier of the 500-cst grade globally and saw a record-high volume of 296,100 tonnes in August, up 30.4per cent on-year. Reuters 

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