Tanker Rates Reach a Two-Week High as May Cargo Demand Begins

Rates for the largest oil tankers rose to the highest in almost two weeks as trader began booking cargoes for May amid an excess of available ships.

Charter costs for very large crude carriers hauling 2 million barrels on the busiest trade route to Japan from Saudi Arabia gained 1.2 percent to 31.89 industry-standard Worldscale points, according to the Baltic Exchange, the London-based publisher of freight rates. That’s the highest since April 5, figures showed today.

Eight vessels were booked to load next month, while there are 83 ships available to load in the Persian Gulf in the next four weeks, according to Kevin Sy, a Singapore-based freight-derivatives broker at Marex Spectron Pte. The fleet will expand 5.1 percent this year, outpacing 4.9 percent demand growth, estimates Clarkson Plc, the world’s largest shipbroker.

“Activity for May fixings is picking up, but with tonnage still well supplied, rates continue to hover at current levels,” Sy said in an e-mailed report today.

Daily losses on the voyage narrowed to $751, the smallest since March 28, when returns became negative, from $1,780, according to the exchange. Those assessments don’t reflect owners cutting speeds to save on fuel, their biggest expense. The price of ship fuel, known as bunkers, fell 2 percent to $597.89 a metric ton, the lowest since July, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from 25 ports worldwide.

Worldscale points are a percentage of a nominal rate for more than 320,000 specific routes. Flat rates for every voyage, quoted in dollars a ton, are revised annually by the Worldscale Association in London to reflect changing fuel costs, port tariffs and exchange rates.

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index, a wider measure of oil-shipping costs that includes smaller vessels, rose for the first time in eight sessions, adding 0.3 percent to 632, according to the exchange.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.