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Vitol Group Sees ’Severely Challenged’ Market for Crude Tankers

Vitol Group, the world’s largest independent oil trader, hired vessels for 5,495 voyages in 2012 and said it expects shipping to continue to be “severely challenged,” especially for tankers that carry crude oil.

“Long-haul crude movement is expected to fall but the supply of vessels will still increase,” the Geneva-based company said in its annual report e-mailed today.

“The outlook is a little brighter” for tankers that carry refined oil products, according to the report. “We expect to see greater products exports out of both the Middle East and the U.S. Gulf Coast which may contain the impact of the increase in supply somewhat.”

The global fleet of product tankers ranks highest amongst investor interest, as rates paid to charter the vessels outperform those carrying crude oil, RS Platou Markets AS, an Oslo-based investment bank, said in a Feb. 13 report. Platou estimates rates for product tankers will rise to $14,000 daily this year, from $13,000 in 2012, as earnings for the biggest crude carriers decline to $20,000 daily, from $21,000.

Vitol’s delivered crude-oil trading volumes totaled 117 million metric tons, it said. Total traded volumes of crude and products declined to 261 million tons from 273 million in 2011.

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