By Roslan Khasawneh
(Reuters) - The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) expects 2016 sales of bunker fuel for ships to rise to a record for a second consecutive year, with early estimates showing volumes increased 7.7 percent to 48.6 million tonnes, it said on Wednesday.
This compares with the 45.2 million tonnes sold in 2015.
"It's really no surprise we broke the record, 2016 was a strong year for Singapore bunkers," said a Singapore-based bunker fuel trader who declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Volumes of marine fuels sold in Singapore averaged 4.1 million tonnes a month in 2016, compared with 3.8 million tonnes a month in the previous year.
Despite the challenges faced by the shipping industry last year, "maritime Singapore sustained its position," said Andrew Tan, chief executive of the MPA, adding 2017 would be another pivotal year in light of continued uncertainties facing the industry.
The growth in bunker sales follows a 6.3 percent increase in annual vessel arrival tonnage which reached 2.66 billion gross tonnes in 2016, the highest in at least five years, the MPA said.
Total cargo tonnage handled in the city-state was also at its highest level since at least 2012, up 3 percent over 2015 to 593.3 million tonnes.
Estimates of container throughput, however, remained unchanged from the previous year at 30.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in 2016, said the port authority.
(Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Mark Potter)