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Oil-Tanker Rates Climb Most in a Month as Vessel Bookings Gain

March 20 (Bloomberg) -- Charter rates for the largest oil tankers on the industry’s busiest trade route climbed the most in a month as increased bookings of the ships trimmed a surplus of vessels.

Hire costs for very large crude carriers on the benchmark Saudi Arabia-to-Japan voyage rose 2.7 percent to 36.28 industry-standard Worldscale points, data from the London-based Baltic Exchange showed today. The gain was the biggest since Feb. 20 and the 12th in 13 sessions.

Demand to book supertankers in the Persian Gulf was “relatively active,” investment-banking company Astrup Fearnley said in an e-mailed report. Still, the ship glut remains and is curbing rate increases, the report showed. The VLCC fleet’s total carrying capacity will advance 5.1 percent this year, near demand growth of 5.2 percent, according to data from Clarkson Plc, the world’s biggest shipbroker.

“Activity picked up and this trims supply,” Kevin Sy, a Singapore-based freight-derivatives broker at Marex Spectron Group, said in an e-mailed report today. “Twenty-three cargoes have been covered so far, which is well ahead of where fixings were this time last month.”

Daily returns on the benchmark route jumped 77 percent to $3,513, exchange data showed. VLCCs lost money on the voyage for seven weeks through March 14, according to the figures. Each of the tankers can hold 2 million barrels of crude.

Speed Cuts

The bourse’s assessments don’t account for owners improving returns by securing cargoes for return-leg voyages or reducing speed to burn less fuel. The price of fuel, or bunkers, the industry’s main expense, slipped 0.1 percent to $626.07 a metric ton, figures compiled by Bloomberg from 25 ports showed.

The Worldscale system is a method for pricing oil cargoes on thousands of trade routes. Each individual voyage’s flat rate, expressed in dollars a ton, is set once a year. Today’s level means hire costs on the benchmark route are 36.28 percent of the nominal Worldscale rate for that voyage.

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index, a broader measure of oil-shipping costs that includes vessels smaller than VLCCs, gained 0.8 percent to 664 after three drops, according to the exchange.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Sheridan in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at

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