Oil-Tanker Hiring Signals Libya Export Gain as BP, Total Charter

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Oil companies including BP Plc and Total SA booked eight tankers to load Libyan crude, a signal exports from the North African country are poised to accelerate after at least three months of disruption.

Europe’s second- and third-largest oil companies were among traders who hired eight tankers to collect more than 5 million barrels from the nation’s ports this month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from four shipbrokers including Poten & Partners in New York and Galbraith’s Ltd. in London. Libya’s production plunged to 150,000 barrels a day at the start of this month, from 1.4 million barrels a day in April, the International Energy Agency said Sept. 12.

Brent oil, Europe’s benchmark, rose 19 percent from April to August as unrest in the country with Africa’s largest oil reserves led to cargoes being canceled as well as stopping operations at ports and oil fields. Crude output has recovered to more than 600,000 barrels a day and all the fields in the west of the country are producing, Sliman Qajam, the deputy head of the parliament’s energy committee, said Sept. 22.

“Returning production is bearish for oil prices as the amount of oil is increasing,” Gareth Lewis-Davies, a London-based energy strategist at BNP Paribas SA, said by phone, adding that shipments are still disrupted from the east of the country. “The fact it’s from these oil fields in the West is significant as it’s where the government has greatest control.”

Victoria Chanial, a Paris-based spokeswoman for Total, and Toby Odone, a London-based spokesman for BP, both declined to comment. Repsol also booked one vessel. Kristian Rix, a Madrid-based spokesman for the company, declined to comment.

Million Barrels

The eight tankers comprise two Suezmaxes able to hold 1 million barrels of crude each and six Aframaxes that would haul about 600,000 barrels. One vessel was booked to load part of its cargo in Libya and another part in Egypt, according to the reports. One of the cargoes is condensate, fuel that’s produced during oil extraction and is equivalent to extra-light crude.

Brokers report charters at the provisional stage, meaning the bookings are sometimes canceled. Traders sometimes hire vessels when they are competing to win tenders and will not proceed with the booking if they don’t win the cargo.

The Libyan ports of Es Sider, Ras Lanuf, Hariga and Zueitina were closed as of Sept. 19, while Brega, Zawiya, Mellitah, Al Jurf and Bouri were operational, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Sheridan in London at rsheridan6@bloomberg.net

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