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Tanker Rates Have Year’s Biggest Weekly Gain as OPEC Cargo Gains

May 31 (Bloomberg) -- Rates for the largest oil tankers had the biggest weekly gain this year amid speculation OPEC is expanding shipments to meet rising demand as refineries return from maintenance.

Charter costs for very large crude carriers on the benchmark Middle East-to-Asia voyage rose 0.3 percent to 46.67 industry-standard Worldscale points today, according to the Baltic Exchange, the London-based publisher of freight rates. That took their weekly gain to 19 percent, the highest since at least the start of January.

Almost 40 ships were booked in the past two trading days, Kevin Sy, a Singapore-based freight-derivatives broker at Marex Spectron Pte, said in an e-mailed report today. There were an average of 109 of the charters a month this year, according to data from Galbraith’s Ltd., a London-based shipbroker. Refineries are returning from routine repairs and taking more cargoes from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to RS Platou Markets AS, an investment-bank in Oslo.

“Strong activity and fewer prompt vessels lifted VLCC rates,” Platou analyst Frode Moerkedal said in an e-mailed report today. “Activity is higher because OPEC is gradually turning up the taps to supply refineries that are coming back from seasonal maintenance.”

Daily earnings for the voyage rose 2.3 percent to $23,853, according to the exchange. Those assessments don’t reflect owners cutting speeds to save on fuel, their biggest expense. The price of ship fuel, known as bunkers, fell 0.8 percent to $600.72 a metric ton, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from 25 ports worldwide.

Baltic Dirty

Worldscale points are a percentage of a nominal rate for more than 320,000 specific routes. Flat rates for every voyage, quoted in 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 wider measure of oil-shipping costs that includes smaller vessels, fell 0.3 percent to 612. The biggest move in rates for the tankers hauling crude or fuel was Suezmaxes in the Black Sea, which fell 1.9 percent to 53.13 points. The biggest change in the market for ships hauling refined fuels was for vessels taking refined fuel to Singapore from South Korea, which slid 1.3 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaac Arnsdorf in London at iarnsdorf@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net

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