Oil-Tanker Returns Rise to Four-Week High as Ship Supply Drops

Returns for suezmax tankers able to haul 1 million-barrel cargoes of crude oil rose to a four-week high as the supply of vessels shrank.

Earnings climbed 6.6 percent to $16,382 a day, figures from the London-based Baltic Exchange showed today. That’s the highest level since Oct. 31. Yesterday income surged 50 percent, the most since Oct. 5, to $15,374.

Demand to charter suezmaxes strengthened as the number of available ships declined, an e-mailed report from investment bank Pareto Securities AS showed. Hire rates for the ships on the voyage to the U.S. East Coast from West Africa advanced 2.1 percent to 88.93 industry-standard Worldscale points, according to the exchange, extending yesterday’s 12 percent climb.

Rates are likely to remain at “current relatively firm levels,” Oslo-based Pareto said.

Earnings for very large crude carriers on the industry’s benchmark Saudi Arabia-to-Japan route slipped 1.6 percent, the smallest change since Sept. 5, to $14,052 a day, according to the bourse. Hire costs on the route rose 0.7 percent to 59.52 Worldscale points. A VLCC can haul twice as much oil as a suezmax.

The market for VLCCs has been “weak and lackluster,” shipbroker Fearnleys AS, a unit of Oslo-based shipping-services and investment-banking group Astrup Fearnley, said in an e-mailed report today. Returns for the ships retreated for a sixth session today and are down 48 percent from the eight-month high reached Nov. 22.

Port Charges

The points are a percentage of a nominal rate, or flat rate, for more than 320,000 specific routes. Flat rates for every voyage, quoted in U.S. dollars a ton, are revised annually by the Worldscale Association in London to reflect changing fuel costs, port tariffs and exchange rates.

Owners can boost returns by reducing a ship’s speed on a return journey after unloading of cargo, saving on fuel costs. The exchange’s earnings estimates don’t reflect speed alterations. The price of ship fuel, or bunkers, advanced 30 percent this year to $659.01 a metric ton, data compiled by Bloomberg from 25 ports worldwide showed.

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index, an overall measure of shipping crude that includes vessels smaller than VLCCs, advanced 0.1 percent to 788, according to the exchange.

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