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Oil Tanker Rates Seen Extending Surge With Libya Crude to Return

July 18 (Bloomberg) -- The biggest surge in oil-shipping costs since January is poised to persist as shipments from Libya act as a catalyst for Asian oil refineries to import more crude from Atlantic Ocean suppliers, RS Platou Markets AS said.

Libya’s Oil Ministry said July 16 that the nation’s largest and third-largest ports will resume shipments next month after a yearlong blockade by protesters seeking a bigger share of the nation’s crude sales. The North African country holds the continent’s biggest oil reserves.

Oil tanker rates as measured by the Baltic Dirty Tanker Index jumped 42 percent to 896 points since early June as refineries returning from routine maintenance booked extra ships. An increase in Libyan supplies could drive down the relative cost of crude in the Atlantic, resulting in more shipments from the region to Asia, according to Frode Moerkedal, an analyst at Platou in Oslo. The firm is part of Norway’s largest shipbroking group.

“If Libyan oil terminals stay open, tanker rates could go higher,” Moerkedal said in an e-mail today. The “return of Libyan oil could give the market another shot in the arm.”

The premium for Brent crude, a benchmark for suppliers in the Mediterranean and wider Atlantic Ocean, fell to $3.32 a barrel more than Dubai, a benchmark in the Persian Gulf, according to data from PVM Oil Associates Ltd. The premium was as high as $3.85 on June 12.

Bookings of very large crude carriers, the industry’s biggest ships, are already climbing for loading from West Africa. Charters rose to 31 this month from 24 in June, according to data from Galbraith’s Ltd., a shipbroker in London.

The ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf were handed over this month by rebels seeking self-rule in the east of the country.

Shipping rates rose because Asian refineries booked more vessels as they returned from a higher-than-normal round of seasonal maintenance, Nikhil Jain, a shipping analyst at Drewry Shipping Consultants in New Delhi, said in an e-mail.

To contact the reporter on this story: Priyanka Sharma in London at psharma142@bloomberg.net

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

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