The bunker fuel market in North America is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 14% during 2020 - 2025. The increasing natural gas production and LNG trade are among the major factors driving the demand for bunker fuels in North America during the forecast period. However, the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has significantly affected the consumption of bunker fuel in the region. With the closure of international and domestic trade movements to curb the spread of the virus, the demand for bunker fuel is expected to decline during the pandemic.
- With the intervention of IMO, the share of very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) is expected to increase, replacing high sulfur fuel oil in the forecast period.
- Low sulfur fuel oil and LNG are expected to create ample opportunities for the market players. Due to the increasing environmental concerns, the demand for cleaner bunker fuel is expected to increase in the coming years.
- The United States is leading the market of bunker fuel due to expanding sea trade. With the expected growth in trade, the nation is likely to continue its dominance during the forecast period.
Key Market Trends
VLSFO to Witness Significant Growth
- Marine fuel containing less than 0.5% of sulfur is generally termed as very-low sulfur fuel oil. Due to low emissions in comparison to High Sulfur fuel, VLSFO is expected to witness significant growth.
- Very-low sulfur fuel oil did not witness demand as a bunker fuel till 2019. However, the deadline for IMO 2020 led to an increase in the market for VLSFO. From January 1, 2020, HSFO can only be used in ships having scrubbers installed to reduce the emissions.
- Most of the high-sulfur fuel oil (HSFO) bunker fuel market is expected to be shortly replaced by low-sulfur alternatives. Most of the VLSFO available in the market is blended from residual and distillate components, which are blended with various cutters of varying sulfur and viscosity to create an on-specification product.
- The demand for very-low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) declined after January 2020 due to global supply chain disruptions, a decrease in demand for general goods and products, lockdown implementation in the majority of the countries, including the United States, Canada, and a global economic slowdown.
- Due to decreased demand and slow trade, the export and import value in Canada declined to USD 446 billion and USD 453 billion in 2019.
- However,the demand for VLSFO is likely to revive after mid-2021. Post-2020, the demand is expected to rise on account of the opening of all the trade routes and relative price rise.
The United States to Dominate the Market
- The United States is one of the most prominent players in the maritime industry. Almost every state in the country has significant ports. The United States is in the middle of the North Pacific route and North Atlantic route, which are the first and the second biggest routes by trade value in the world.
- From 2016-2018, the United States’ export value has increased by 14.78%, and import value has risen by 16.15%. But during 2018-2019, both import and export value of the country registered a decline.
- The maritime industry is the most significant mode of transport of these goods. Hence, in line with the drop in exports and imports, the total container throughput of the country also declined, indicating a slowdown in the marine traffic. The downturn in maritime traffic negatively affected the bunker fuel market in the country.
- In major ports of the United States like in Los Angeles, New Jersey, and Long Beach, total container throughput was recorded 9.34 million TEU, 7.63 million TEU, and million 7.47 TEU respectively in 2019.
- Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting lockdowns globally, the demand for marine transportation has declined significantly during 2020. A similar trend is expected to continue until the middle of 2021. Post COVID-19 outbreak, the global trade is expected to recover gradually, until 2023-2024.
- Hence, until 2021, the United States marine industry and bunker fuel market is expected to register a significant decline compared to 2019. From 2022, onwards, due to combination recovery in global trade and renegotiation of the US-China trade deal, the bunker fuel market in the country is expected to register significant improvement.
The North America bunker fuel market is moderately consolidated. Some of the major companies include Exxon Mobil Corporation, BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Total SA, Chevron Corporation, and others.
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