Saturday, August 18, 2007

Persian Gulf Oil-Tanker Rates May Rise

Persian Gulf Oil-Tanker Rates May Rise on Weather, OPEC Cargoes
By Alaric Nightingale
Aug. 17 (Bloomberg)

The cost of shipping Middle East crude to Asia, the world's busiest market for supertankers, may rise today as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumps more oil and two storms threaten to disrupt shipping.

OPEC, supplier of 40 percent of the world's crude, has increased shipments by 1 million barrels a day since July ``without saying anything,'' Jennifer Gordon, a New York-based trading analyst at Deutsche Bank Securities said in an e-mailed note yesterday. A supertyphoon approaching Taiwan and a hurricane off the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean may delay vessels.

``Weather is always a factor for market movement,'' Nikos Varvaropoulos, a tanker broker for Athens-based Optima Shipbrokers, said in an e-mailed note today.

The benchmark rental rate for shipments to Asia, used to settle freight contracts between owners and oil companies, climbed 1.2 percent to 50.44 Worldscale points yesterday, its biggest one-day gain in six weeks. The rate was previously at its lowest since October 2003.

At 50.44 Worldscale points, owners of double-hulled VLCCs can earn about $19,191 a day on a 38-day round trip from Saudi Arabia to South Korea, based on a formula by R.S. Platou, an Oslo-based shipbroker, and Bloomberg bunker prices.

Frontline Ltd., the world's biggest VLCC operator, said May 30 it needs $29,500 a day to break even on each of its supertankers.

Bookings for supertankers sailing from the Middle East to Asia account for 47 percent of global demand for the carriers, according to New York-based McQuilling Brokerage Partners LLP. Shipments to the U.S. and Caribbean, the second-biggest market, account for 14 percent of demand for supertankers.

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