2008 has been ?the best year ever? for tanker owners, according to leading broker RS Platou.
2008 has been ?the best year ever? for tanker owners, according to leading broker RS Platou. According to its tanker index, which is derived from six different sizes of crude and product carriers, average daily earnings for owners were $64,000. This figure is marginally higher than 2004 levels which previously held the record, stated an RS Platou report. The report pegged suezmax and aframax earnings for this year at $67,200 and $49,800 per day respectively.
According to the Norwegian brokerage, both product and chemical tanker rates ?have bucked the general trend in shipping of slumping returns, particularly in the dry-bulk and container shipping sectors,? reports said.
Brokers said 2008 saw several instances of counter-seasonal strength in spot tanker rates which pushed earnings for many owners to record levels.
This counter-seasonal strength in spot rates has been attributed to heightened oil demand from the US, China and India and rising exports from tonne-mile intensive OPEC producers.
Stockpiling ahead of the Beijing Olympics and port delays in the US and Japan also contributed to counter-seasonal spikes in spot rates.
Several players also told that robust conversion and scrapping volumes checked tanker supply growth and in turn propped up rates.
?During the first nine months of 2008, the world tanker fleet grew by 3%, a decrease from the annual fleet supply growth rate of approximately 6% experienced for the same period in 2006 and 2007,? according to one source.
With regards to the last quarter of this year, leading operator Teekay Corporation said rates for medium-sized crude oil tankers remained relatively firm.
This is ?primarily due to the seasonal increase in oil demand during the northern hemisphere winter, rising volumes of non-OPEC production as seasonal maintenance was completed in the North Sea...? it said.
Looking ahead however, RS Platou predicted a downward trend for rates in 2009.
Erik M Andersen, managing director of RS Platou Economic Research, was quoted saying he expected tanker rates to fall.
One broker however, told that rate levels next year would be ''artificially lower'' as a result of higher WS flat rates which have been revised on the back of record bunker prices recorded this year, rather than a dip in actual earnings for owners.