Shell has cut crude oil imports at its Singapore refinery this month and is relying on smaller tankers after extending repairs at its single buoy mooring (SBM) facility to June, according to government notices and shipping data.
The company is moving crude from Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) onto smaller Aframax tankers through ship-to-ship transfers before discharging them at another jetty on Pulau Bukom, the island south of Singapore where the refinery is located, shipping data from Refinitiv Eikon and Kpler showed.
The transfers typically add to refiners' transportation costs and come at a time when companies are already contending with depressed processing margins in the region amid ample fuel supplies.
Crude imports to Bukom fell to 3 million barrels so far in May from 7.65 million in April, Kpler data showed on Tuesday, while Refinitiv data said shipments dropped to 3.2 million barrels from 6.9 million.
Repair works at the SBM started in February and have been extended to June, according to public notices on the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) website.
Shell declined to comment on the refinery's crude imports and product exports, operational status of the SBM and its refinery and additional shipping costs, citing commercial confidentiality.
Prior to the repairs, crude was mostly imported through the SBM, located about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Bukom, according to Shell's website.
From the start of this year, crude shipments to the refinery have been limited to Aframax tankers capable of carrying about 600,000 barrels of oil, the data showed.
These tankers received their cargoes through oil transfers from VLCCs, which can carry 2 million barrels of crude, at Nipah, an Indonesian STS spot south of Singapore, shipping data on Eikon showed.
These cargoes contain crude from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, the data showed.
The last VLCC to deliver crude to the refinery was in December, Kpler data showed. VLCCs discharge oil at the SBM since they are unable to dock at Bukom's jetties because the water is too shallow.
The Bukom refinery, Shell's sole refining-petrochemical centre in Asia, can process 237,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude.
Gasoil exports from Bukom fell to 170,000 tonnes, or 1.29 million barrels, in April and 180,000 tonnes in May, down from a monthly average of about 300,000 tonnes in the first quarter, Refinitiv data showed.
(Reuters - Reporting by Muyu Xu, Jeslyn Lerh, Trixie Yap and Florence Tan; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)