Tanker Glut Swells to Highest in Four Months as Demand Weakens

The glut of supertankers competing for 2 million-barrel cargoes of Persian Gulf oil expanded to the highest in more than four months, driving down freight rates as demand for the ships weakens.

There are 22 percent more very large crude carriers for hire over the next 30 days than cargoes, according to the median estimate of seven shipbrokers and owners in a Bloomberg News survey today. That’s 2.5 percentage points more than last week, and the biggest excess since Sept. 5.

Demand is “very slow,” with only one of the tankers booked yesterday, RS Platou Markets AS, an Oslo-based investment bank, said in an e-mailed note today. Vessels booked two months ago are now returning to the Persian Gulf seeking employment, swelling supply, said Per Mansson, managing director of shipbroker Norocean Stockholm AB, who has worked in the industry for 31 years.

“December and January did not pick up as we thought,” Mansson said by phone from the city. “It’s going to be tough. We will work with a big overhang of vessels every month.”

Daily returns for tankers hauling 2 million barrels of crude to Japan from Saudi Arabia slumped 11 percent to $8,994, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange yesterday. That was the first time since Nov. 12 earnings were below $10,000.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Sheridan in London at rsheridan6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net

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