Oil-Tanker Surplus Is Seen by OPEC Curbing Rates for Owners

A surplus of the largest oil tankers is curbing returns for owners of the vessels, according to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“Rates remain under pressure, due mainly to an oversupplied market,” OPEC said today in a monthly report. It was referring to very large crude carriers, each able to haul 2 million barrels of cargo. “Tonnages remain sufficient at all times to cover all charter requirements.”

Rates for the ships “might be limited by maintenance in the East” this month, according to the report. Average spot, or single-journey, hire costs for VLCCs on the benchmark voyage to Japan from Saudi Arabia climbed 6.1 percent on the month in March in terms of industry-standard Worldscale points, said OPEC, whose 12 members pump about 40 percent of the world’s oil.

Hire rates for VLCCs on the benchmark journey were unchanged today at 30.75 Worldscale points after 11 sessions of declines, figures from the Baltic Exchange in London showed.

Daily losses for the ships on the route widened to $4,885 from $4,632 yesterday, according to the exchange. The tankers lost money on the journey for seven weeks through March 14, according to its assessments, which don’t reflect speed cuts on return journeys after unloading of cargoes aimed at reducing fuel costs.

25 Ports

Marine fuel, or bunkers, ship owners’ main expense, rose 0.6 percent to $617.75 a metric ton, the highest since April 4, figures compiled by Bloomberg from 25 ports worldwide showed.

The Worldscale system is a method for pricing oil cargoes on thousands of trade routes. Each individual voyage’s flat rate, expressed in dollars a ton, is set once a year. Today’s level means hire costs on the benchmark route are 30.75 percent of the nominal Worldscale rate for that voyage.

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index, a broader measure of oil-shipping costs that includes vessels smaller than VLCCs, slid 1 percent to 702, according to the exchange. The drop was the biggest since March 11.

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