SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Ocean Bunkering Services (OBS) Pte Ltd said it will add five bunker barges to its fleet as part of plans to expand in Singapore, the world’s largest marine refueling market.
OBS, the bunkering arm of Singapore oil trader and shipper Hin Leong Group, said the five barges are scheduled for delivery by early-January 2018 and will give it a total of 25 vessels.
“OBS’s fleet of 25 bunker barges represents a significant proportion of the total of 206 Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA)-licensed bunker barges,” the company said in a statement.
The marine fuels market has faced increased competition for market share and a squeeze on margins since Singapore became the world’s first port to adopt mass flow meters to streamline operations at the start of 2017.
The use of the meters on bunkering barges has also led to a crackdown on short deliveries to customers, which has seen three of the top 10 MPA-licensed bunker fuel suppliers lose their licenses.
“We see the narrowing down of industry participants as an avenue to consolidate our position and expand our reach,” an OBS spokeswoman told Reuters on Friday.
One of OBS’s new barges will be deployed to supply distillate fuels, while the remaining four are expected to supply residual fuels, the spokeswoman said. She declined to detail the investment cost or supplier of the vessels.
The MPA in 2016 ranked OBS as the 31st largest of 58 bunker fuel suppliers by volume, according to its most recent data.
Singapore currently has 55 licensed suppliers and 53 bunker craft operators.
The family-owned Hin Leong Group also operates one of the largest commercial oil storage complexes in Asia, Singapore’s Universal Terminal.
Reporting by Roslan Khasawneh; editing by Richard Pullin