Oil Tankers Have Biggest Weekly Climb of 2013 on Vessel Demand

Charter rates for the largest oil tankers hauling Middle East crude to Asia had this year’s biggest weekly advance on continued demand to book vessels.

Hire costs for very large crude carriers on the benchmark Saudi Arabia-to-Japan voyage rose 0.6 percent to 34.41 industry-standard Worldscale points, the highest level since March 26, figures from the London-based Baltic Exchange showed today. That capped a 7.5 percent weekly increase. Each of the ships can hold 2 million barrels of crude.

The supply of VLCCs in the Persian Gulf over the next four weeks increased by two to 78, according to an e-mailed note from Marex Spectron Group today. That was down from 91 tankers a month earlier. While charterers booked vessels to load cargoes in this month’s first half, “immediate upward pressure” to hire ships appears to have slowed, according to Halvor Ellefsen, a shipbroker at Galbraith’s Ltd. in London.

“There are still a couple of cargoes out there to be covered,” Ellefsen said by phone today. “Owners will be looking to raise the bar further.”

Daily earnings for VLCCs on the benchmark route jumped 73 percent to $2,596, exchange data show. The ships lost money on the voyage for a month through April 29, according to the exchange. Its assessments don’t account for owners improving returns by securing cargoes for return-leg voyages or reducing speed to burn less fuel.

The Worldscale system is a way of 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 34.41 percent of the nominal Worldscale rate for the voyage.

The biggest one-day change for crude-oil tankers was for ships hauling 30,000 metric-ton cargoes to the Mediterranean Sea from the Black Sea, which fell 0.8 percent to 170.71 Worldscale points, exchange data show. For ships carrying refined fuels, the largest move was for shipments to Japan from Singapore, which slid 1 percent to 142.50 points.

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