The cost to transport crude oil from the Caribbean on Aframax tankers has dropped 62 percent in four weeks as rising stockpiles of crude oil and the weakening U.S.
The cost to transport crude oil from the Caribbean on Aframax tankers has dropped 62 percent in four weeks as rising stockpiles of crude oil and the weakening U.S. economy reduced demand for shipments. Tanker rates dropped as U.S. crude inventories reached 338.9 million barrels, the highest level since August 2007, according to a Jan. 28 Energy Department report. Stockpiles have risen seven of the past eight weeks. ?At these rates they will put the ships in storage or sit them or do extra maintenance,? Bruce Kahler, a broker at Lone Star, R.S. Platou in Houston, said in a telephone interview. ?These markets are not going anywhere for a while. We"re in a period now where there"s so much crude in storage and refineries are running so much slower.?
Aframaxes today were hired for an average rate of Worldscale 75, according to New York-based Poten & Partners and Lone Star said. WS 75 is about $19,480 a day after expenses, such as fuel and port fees.
The U.S. economy shrank the most since 1982 in the fourth quarter as consumer spending recorded the largest slide in the postwar era, the Commerce Department said today. Companies cut 524,000 workers in December, bringing total job cuts for 2008 to almost 2.6 million. The unemployment rate last month was 7.2 percent, up from 4.9 percent a year earlier.
There are five or six available ships in the region, Kahler said.
Ernst Jacob GmbH & Co."s Aframax Urals Star is set to arrive at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, or LOOP, the biggest U.S. oil-import terminal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
ICON Capital Corp."s Eagle Auriga is due to reach Puerto Jose, Venezuela, today, Bloomberg data showed. Hong Kong Ming Wah Shipping Co."s New Activity is scheduled for Bonaire tomorrow. Allocean Charters Ltd."s Sanko Bright is due in La Salina, Venezuela, tomorrow, according to the data.
?The Caribbean proved far from a happy hunting ground for Aframax owners as very limited action kept rates down,? E.A. Gibson Shipbrokers Ltd., based in London, said in a note. ?Volatility is the name of the game here, and one would expect some rebound.?
More than 40 percent of U.S. crude imports come from nearby countries, including Canada, Mexico and Venezuela, according to E.A. Gibson Shipbrokers. The U.S. consumes about one-quarter of the world"s crude.
Worldscale points are a percentage of a nominal rate, or flat rate, for more than 320,000 specific routes. Flat rates, quoted in U.S. dollars a ton, are revised annually by the Worldscale Association in London to reflect changing costs.
The Caribbean is the world"s third-largest Aframax-tanker market, after the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia. An Aframax is the most common tanker used to move oil in the region. It can carry 600,000 barrels of oil.