Europe-U.S. Gasoline Flow Seen Jumping as Seasonal Demand Gains

The number of European gasoline cargoes booked for shipment to the U.S. will almost double over the next two weeks as seasonal demand for the road fuel strengthens, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Traders will charter a total of 34 Medium Range tankers for loading to May 7, according to the median in a survey yesterday of seven shipbrokers and traders. That’s up from 18 vessels, each normally carrying 37,000 metric tons of cargo, in a corresponding survey last week.

U.S. demand for gasoline usually peaks during the so-called driving season between the Memorial Day holiday in late May and Labor Day in early September. Inventories of the fuel in the world’s biggest economy declined for a ninth week in 10 as of April 12, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

“There’s a seasonal upturn in the need for gasoline ahead of the U.S. summer driving season,” Gareth Lewis-Davies, a London-based energy strategist at BNP Paribas SA, said by telephone yesterday.

U.S. gasoline stockpiles were down 5.6 percent from this year’s high in January at 221.7 million barrels by April 12, the Department of Energy’s figures showed.

Tankers were earning $19,277 daily on the trans-Atlantic voyage as of yesterday, the most since Feb. 13, according to figures from the Baltic Exchange in London. Returns jumped 60 percent this year, its data showed.

Eighteen of the projected charters have been arranged and the rest are anticipated, according to the survey. About 33 vessels will be seeking cargoes, five more than last week.

The survey is based on the industry’s benchmark Rotterdam-to-New York route. The voyage takes about 11 days at 12.5 knots, according to the sea-distances.com website. Below is a table of ships chartered, probably hired and available to be booked for the trans-Atlantic voyage loading over the two-week periods from the dates shown.

*T April 23 April 16 Change Ships Hired 18 11 +64% Expected Charters 16 7 +129% Total Hired 34 18 +89% Available Ships, Europe-U.S. 33 28 +18% *T

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