SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Sales of marine fuels in Singapore, Asia's biggest ship fuelling port, fell to a three-year low in February of 3.78 million tonnes, down 8.6 percent from a year earlier, data from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) showed on Wednesday.
The February volume was 10 percent lower than January when 4.199 million tonnes were sold.
The number of ships that called in February at Singapore for refuelling, also called bunkering, fell 10.3 percent from January to a six-month low of 3,180 ships. However, bunkering calls in February were up 2.8 percent from a year earlier.
The lower bunkering traffic in February was attributed to the Lunar New Year holidays in China and parts of Asia during the month, the fewer calendar days in February and possibly lower overall shipping traffic from the U.S.-China trade tensions, two trade sources said.
In a sign that the world's second-largest economy is losing steam, factory activity in China contracted to a three-year low in February as export orders fell at the fastest pace since the global financial crisis.
Reflecting the lower bunkering activity at Singapore, vessels loaded an average of 1,189 tonnes each of bunkers in February, down from 1,337 tonnes last year but marginally higher from 1,184 tonnes in January, Reuters calculations showed.
The average volume loaded by each ship in 2018 totalled 1,262 tonnes.
Sales of 380-centistoke (cst) high-sulphur fuel oil were at a three-year low of 2.707 million tonnes in February, 7.2 percent lower than a year earlier and 8.9 percent lower than the previous month.
Sales of low-sulphur marine fuels that comply with upcoming emissions regulations from 2020 totalled 260,000 tonnes in February, slightly lower from the record 262,000 tonnes sold in January, Reuters calculations showed.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has passed rules requiring the sulphur content in shipping fuel be reduced to 0.5 percent from 3.5 percent from the start of next year.
Table below shows overall sales volumes and details quantities of high-sulphur marine fuels.
(Reporting by Roslan Khasawneh; editing by Christian Schmollinger)