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Oil companies steps up demand

Oil companies steps up demand
The supply of supertankers competing to haul two million-barrel cargoes of Middle East crude fell for a second week.

The supply of supertankers competing to haul two million-barrel cargoes of Middle East crude fell for a second week.

The supply of supertankers competing to haul two million-barrel cargoes of Middle East crude fell for a second week as oil companies stepped up demand before year-end holidays. There are 4.5 per cent more very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, for hire over the next 30 days than there are cargoes, according to the median estimate of four shipbrokers and two owners. A week ago, the surplus was 5 per cent.

Demand last week was 'busy', leaving the supply of ships 'tightly balanced' against likely cargoes, Oslo-based PF Bassoe said in a Dec 11 report. Vessel supply is at its lowest for more than a year, the shipbroker said.

Carriers have been enticed away to West Africa from the Persian Gulf because rental income is better for Atlantic loadings, Bassoe said.

Nigeria and Angola, West Africa's biggest oil producers, have lifted their combined output by 12 per cent to 3.8 million barrels a day since March.

Middle East producers in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries boosted output by a smaller 3.7 per cent to 19.6 million barrels a day during the same period.

Of the six respondents to Monday's survey, four said the surplus of ships was unchanged compared with their previous estimates. One said it shrank, one said it expanded.

Rental income from the industry's benchmark Saudi Arabia-to-Japan route advanced 0.9 per cent to US$37,607 a day after climbing to the highest since June 26 last week, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. In Worldscale rates, prices gained 0.1 per cent to 56.94 points.

Returns from shipping one million-barrel cargoes on suezmax tankers fell to US$25,237, according to the Baltic Exchange. Aframaxes that carry 650,000 barrels added 8.4 per cent to US$22,086 a day.

Meanwhile, crude oil freight rates on major routes were mixed on Monday, with slight easing in the Black Sea driven by improving wait times.

The world's benchmark VLCC export route from the Middle East Gulf to Japan was up at 56.94 Worldscale points or US$37,607 a day, from 56.59 Worldscale points a day last week.

Brokers said momentum in VLCC activity had been driven by continuing demand.

'Even though there are fewer December stems as cargoes are fixed away, there are still charterers with firm cargoes seeking coverage. This has resulted in owners setting their sights higher for early January liftings,' said broker Fearnleys in a report.

VLCC rates from the Gulf to the United States were at 35.25 Worldscale points from 36.12 last week.

'VLCC . . . rates have stabilised and, thanks to lower bunker costs, daily returns improved,' broker BRS said in a report.

Exchange figures showed crude oil tanker rates from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean down to 91.00 Worldscale points, or US$29,028 a day, from 106.21 Worldscale points last week.

BRS said congestion in the Mediterranean market had eased to six days up, five days down from 12 days in both directions last week.

Cross Mediterranean tanker rates eased to 105.68 Worldscale points from 118.86 Worldscale points last week. VLCC rates from West Africa to the US Gulf were at 59.27 Worldscale points from 65.00 Worldscale points last week.


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