Rising supertanker shipments of crude oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast from West Africa have sent shipping rates near a 17-month high.
Rising supertanker shipments of crude oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast from West Africa have sent shipping rates near a 17-month high, according to data from Clarkson Research Services Ltd. Very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, which can move 2 million barrels of oil, have been hired to ship at least 2.6 million metric tons (about 19 million barrels) of crude oil on the trade route this month, according to London-based Clarkson. The total is up from 1.82 million tons in December.
The rate to ship crude on VLCCs from West Africa to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast stood at Worldscale 115 today, or about $75,908 a day after fuel costs, according to London-based broker Galbraith"s. The rate was WS 135 in the six sessions ended Jan. 21, the highest level since Aug. 13, 2008.
Rates to ship crude on VLCCs from the region, including from Nigeria, which vies with Angola to be Africa"s biggest producer, have climbed as the availability of smaller Suezmax tankers declined, said George Los, a researcher at shipbroker Charles R. Weber Co. in Greenwich, Connecticut.
?Suezmax, which is a more commonly seen ship on that route, became very scarce, encouraging charterers to merge the cargoes to use VLCC,? Los said.
The smaller tankers, which can haul 1 million barrels of crude, were hired to carry 1.17 million tons of oil on the same route this month, down from December"s 1.82 million, according to Clarkson.
Rates for Suezmax ships sailing from West Africa to the Gulf Coast reached WS 172.50 on Jan. 18, the highest level since Dec. 4, 2008, according to Galbraith"s. The rate was WS 122.5 today.
Nigeria produces a light, low-sulfur grade of crude that"s favored by refineries for making gasoline. The country"s oil production has been disrupted in recent years by militant attacks on its energy infrastructure.
Oil output from Nigeria, which was the fifth-largest oil exporter to the U.S. in October, fell to 1.75 million barrels a day in July, the lowest since 1994, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Production has been rising since then, averaging about 2 million barrels a day in December.
Crude oil for March delivery fell 82 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $75.26 a barrel at 11:14 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price has risen 72 percent from a year ago.
Worldscale points are a percentage of a nominal rate, or flat rate, for more than 320,000 specific routes. Flat rates for every voyage, quoted in U.S. dollars a ton, are revised annually by the Worldscale Association in London to reflect changing fuel costs, port tariffs and exchange rates.