Oil-Tanker Rates Climb as Demand to Book Vessels Seen Gaining

Charter rates for the largest oil tankers hauling Middle East crude to Asia extended gains for a fourth session amid speculation that demand to book the vessels strengthened.

Hire costs for very large crude carriers on the benchmark Saudi Arabia-to-Japan voyage rose 0.6 percent to 34.20 industry-standard Worldscale points, data from the London-based Baltic Exchange showed today. Rates climbed to the highest since March 27.

The supply of supertankers available in the Persian Gulf over the next four weeks declined by one to 76 ships, according to an e-mailed note from Marex Spectron Group today. The tally stood at 91 for the same period a month earlier. Charterers “have been providing quite a bit of action” as more ships were booked, said Kevin Sy, a Singapore-based freight-swaps broker at the company.

“Activity was higher than normal despite holidays with chartering interest across the board,” Oslo-based investment bank RS Platou Markets AS said in an e-mailed report today. “Rates could move higher if activity is maintained.”

Earnings on the benchmark route fell 0.3 percent to $1,499 a day, exchange data show. Returns were negative between March 28 and April 29, according to the exchange. Each of the tankers can hold 2 million barrels of crude. 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 Worldscale system is a way of 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 34.20 percent of the nominal Worldscale rate for the voyage.

The biggest one-day change for crude oil tankers was for ships hauling 70,000 ton cargoes to the U.S. Gulf from the Caribbean, which rose 1.6 percent to 104.55 Worldscale points, exchange data show. For ships moving refined fuels, the largest move was for diesel shipments to Europe from the U.S. Gulf, which rose 0.9 percent to 78.21 points.

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