Oil Tankers Extend Losses for Fourth Session on Fewer Charters

Rates for the largest oil tankers hauling Middle East crude to Asia fell for a fourth session as demand from charterers to hire ships slowed.

Charter costs for very large crude carriers transporting 2 million barrels of cargo on the benchmark journey to Japan from Saudi Arabia slid 0.4 percent to 41 industry-standard Worldscale points, according to the Baltic Exchange, the London-based publisher of freight rates. Rates lost 3.2 percent this week.

The supply of VLCCs in the Persian Gulf over the next four weeks expanded by two to 82, according to figures from Marex Spectron Group today. That compared with 58 tankers at the start of the month, the broker’s data showed. The VLCC fleet’s carrying capacity will expand 5.1 percent this year, near demand growth of 5 percent, according to Clarkson Plc, the world’s largest shipbroker.

“Charterers continue to hide in the wings,” Halvor Ellefsen, a shipbroker at Galbraith’s Ltd. in London, said in an e-mailed report today. “We fully expect them to continue their drip-feeding ways, hoping to dent owners’ confidence.”

Daily earnings for VLCCs on the benchmark voyage reached the lowest since May 24, dropping 4.3 percent to $13,184 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, rose 0.1 percent to $607.32 a metric ton, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from 25 ports worldwide.

Fuel Costs

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, was unchanged at 580, according to the exchange.

The biggest move for rates for oil tankers was for cargoes headed to northwest Europe from loading ports in the North Sea, up 4.5 percent to 87.75 Worldscale points. The biggest change for vessels hauling refined products was for ships hauling cargoes to Japan from the Middle East, down 2.1 percent to 91.92 points.

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