Mideast Oil-Tanker Surplus Expands as Demand to Hire Ships Wanes

The surplus of supertankers competing for 2 million-barrel cargoes of Persian Gulf oil expanded as demand to hire the ships waned.

There are 24 percent more very large crude carriers for charter over the next 30 days than cargoes, according to the median estimate of six shipbrokers and owners in a Bloomberg News survey. That’s one percentage point more than last week, survey data showed. The excess previously reached 24 percent on Jan. 29, when it was the biggest surplus since Sept. 5.

Daily losses for VLCCs on the benchmark Saudi Arabia-to- Japan voyage widened to $7,038 yesterday from $6,761 on Feb. 8, Baltic Exchange data showed. The bourse’s assessments, which turned negative on Jan. 24, don’t take into account the fact the vessels can cut speeds to lower fuel costs. The price of fuel added 0.6 percent yesterday to $658.98 a metric ton, the highest since Sept. 19, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg from 25 ports.

“Activity remains relatively light ahead of the Chinese New Year,” analyst Sam Margolin at investment bank Dahlman Rose & Co. in New York said in an e-mailed report yesterday. Financial markets in China, the world’s second-biggest crude buyer after the U.S., are closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

VLCCs earned money in only four sessions in the third quarter of last year on the journey, according to the exchange. The combined carrying capacity of the world VLCC fleet will expand 5.3 percent this year, below demand growth of 5.9 percent, according to estimates from Clarkson Research Services Ltd., a unit of the largest global shipbroker.

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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