Oil-Tanker Earnings Seen Rebounding as Refinery Maintenance Ends

Earnings for the largest oil tankers, carriers of about half the world’s seaborne crude, are set to rebound as refineries end maintenance and Asia imports more cargoes from West Africa, said McQuilling Services LLP.

“Despite the market skimming at low levels, rates have recently shown some signs of life and could find further support as we enter the second half of 2013,” the Garden City, New York-based marine consultancy said in an e-mailed report today. “Demand from the U.S. should perk up as refineries wrap up seasonal turnarounds.”

Crude demand is poised to improve this year after reaching a 2013 low in the coming quarter, McQuilling said, citing International Energy Agency estimates. Shipments booked on the biggest tankers to Asia from West Africa so far this year are 45 percent higher than in 2010 and earnings on the route averaged $7,200 daily, the report showed.

That return is $3,000 a day more than earnings from hauling Middle East oil to Asia, helping to disperse regional tonnage availability, according to the consultant. Speed cuts aimed at saving on fuel costs and slower fleet growth also will help to lift rates, it said.

McQuilling was referring to very large crude carriers, each able to carry 2 million barrels of oil. The ships will transport 48 percent of the world’s seaborne crude this year, London-based Clarkson Plc, the world’s biggest shipbroker, said in a report in January.

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