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Oil Tankers Used to Store Millions of Barrels as Land Sites Fill

  • Companies forced to keep crude on small Aframax-class vessels
  • Lack of space on land seen as driving force behind buildup
Aerial Views Of The Greek Capital
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Oil companies booked tankers to store as many as 9 million barrels of crude in northwest Europe amid signs that space in on-land depots is filling up, a ship-operator said. The glut could get bigger still, given the region is scheduled to load the most cargoes in 4 1/2 years next month.

There are 14 to 16 Aframax-class tankers now storing crude in the region, Jonathan Lee, chief executive officer of Tankers International, operator of the world’s biggest pool of supertankers, said by phone Friday. Standard cargoes are normally almost 600,000 barrels. Lack of on-land capacity to hold the oil is the most likely cause of the buildup, he said.