Singapore bitumen prices hit new high on Chinese, Australian demand

28 March 2012 09:41  [Source: ICIS news]

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Singapore’s bitumen prices reached a record high at $655-665/tonne (€491-499/tonne) FOB (free on board) on 27 March, backed by strong demand from China and Australia, traders said on Wednesday.

Singaporean bitumen prices have been increasing continuously since early January because of the healthy demand and increasing production costs.

The average price was at $657.50/tonne FOB Singapore on 27 March, up by $50.50/tonne or 8.32% from early January, according to ICIS C1, an ICIS service in China.

Australia is currently in peak bitumen demand season in the first quarter of the year, when summer conditions are optimal for road construction.

In addition, two Australian bitumen refiners have reduced their output, international traders said without elaborating further. As a result, the country is relying more heavily on southeast Asian cargoes, the traders said.

“Although Australia’s bitumen specification [class 170/340] is different from that of southeast Asia, they can accept high prices, so Singaporean and Thai refiners are interested in producing Australian grades,” a southeast Asian trader said.

In China, agents delivering Singaporean bitumen for road projects are buying actively. The highest-priced deal concluded for these cargoes reached $670/tonne FOB Singapore, according to players in China.

Additionally, production cuts by two Singaporean refiners have boosted prices. Singapore is forecasted to supply 70,000-80,000 tonnes of bitumen in April, down by 40% from its normal monthly level, an industry source said.

Singapore typically exports 135,000 tonnes of bitumen every month, of which 30% is supplied to China, ICIS C1 data showed.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Alfa Li
020-3762 0271

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