Energy

Rani Molla is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist using data visualizations to cover corporations and markets. She previously worked for the Wall Street Journal.

The oil crash has divided industries into winners and losers. Airlines, for example, saw profit margins soar on cheap oil, while railroads blamed weakening shipments of fracking sand and crude oil for employee furloughs. The oil industry itself is still waiting for prices to bottom. One segment of the oil industry, however, has done well even as OPEC saw its prices sink below $30 a barrel: shipping. 

As oil prices plunged…

OPEC crude oil basket price
Source: Bloomberg

…the cost to ship the commodity rose.

Daily cost to charter an oil tanker
Source: Bloomberg

That’s because cheap oil whetted a global appetite…

Global oil demand in millions of barrels per day
Source: Department of Energy

…and oil companies tied up tankers so they could use them to store oil offshore while awaiting higher prices.

Peak oil stored in the past year, by region and date
Source: Bloomberg

But forecasts for rising oil prices are pushing oil out of storage…

Global offshore oil storage
Source: Bloomberg

…and tanker supply could again outpace demand, causing shipping costs to fall. 

Estimates of tanker supply and demand growth
Source: Clarksons Research, Bloomberg Intelligence

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Rani Molla in New York at rmolla2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Timothy L. O'Brien at tobrien46@bloomberg.net