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Oil-Tanker Returns Fall Most in a Month as Ship Surplus Expands

Returns for the largest oil tankers hauling Middle East crude to Asia fell the most in a month as a surplus of ships expanded and fuel costs rose.

Daily income for very large crude carriers on the benchmark Saudi Arabia-to-Japan voyage plunged 14 percent to $11,949, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. That was the biggest drop since Feb. 1, its figures showed. Each of the ships can transport 2 million barrels.

The supply of vessels available to load in the Persian Gulf over the next four weeks increased by one to 85 ships, said Kevin Sy, a Singapore-based freight-derivatives broker at Marex Spectron Group. The price of ship fuel, or bunkers, was near the highest level since at least October 2008, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg from 25 global ports.

“There are more than enough ships available,” Sy said in an e-mailed report.

Fuel prices climbed 1 percent to $730.45 a metric ton, the data showed. They reached $731.10 on Feb. 28.

Owners can curb fuel costs, boosting returns, by reducing a ship’s pace on a return journey after unloading of cargo. Bunker prices have gained 11 percent since the start of the year, the Bloomberg data show.

Hire costs for VLCCs on the benchmark route fell 0.3 percent to 52.35 industry-standard Worldscale points, according to the exchange.

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.

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index, a broader measure of oil-shipping costs that includes vessels smaller than VLCCs, increased 0.8 percent to 796.

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