Product-Tanker Rates Seen Higher as Arbitrage Trades Return

Returns for tankers that carry refined oil products such as gasoline will exceed estimates by as much as 46 percent through 2015 as traders speculate on price gaps between regions, DNB Markets said.

Medium Range or Handysize ships carrying as much as 45,000 metric tons of cargo will earn $17,500 a day this year, 6 percent more than it had previously forecast, the Oslo-based investment bank said today by e-mail. Daily returns next year will be 29 percent higher than projected at $22,500 and in 2015 will come to $27,000, a 46 percent increase, DNB said.

Traders who speculate on prices of refined products over voyages, the so-called arbitrage, are returning to the market, according to DNB. That increased utilization rates for tankers and charter rates for the vessels, it said.

“These arbitrages have opened up because financial markets have stabilized in the past four to five months and traders are allowed to take higher risk,” the bank said. “As the shipping cost today is 1 to 5 percent of delivered cost, we believe the potential in commanding higher rates for profitable arbitrage trading is significant.”

12-Year Low

Demand for product tankers will increase 4 percent this year and strengthen to 5 percent in 2014, DNB said. That compares with estimated fleet growth of 3 percent this year and 2 percent for 2014 and 2015 as orders for new vessels reach a 12-year low in terms of the ratio to the current fleet, according to the bank.

Ship use is set to rise to levels near previous peaks and is estimated at 91 percent in 2013 after three years below 90 percent, DNB said. The utilization rate will increase further to 94 percent next year and 96 percent in 2015, the report showed.

There are 1,296 MR ships with capacities of 30,000 to 59,999 deadweight tons in the global fleet of 2,999 product tankers, figures from Clarkson Plc, the biggest shipbroker, showed. MR vessels haul about half of the refined oil products carried at sea, according to McQuilling Services LLC, a Garden City, New York-based tanker consultancy.

Product tankers will transport 902 million tons of cargo a year by 2015, up from 823.9 million tons in 2011, according to DVB Bank SE, a German transportation lender.

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