Super-Tanker Surge Signals More Crude Carnage To Come

"The supply of oil continues to build," warns the CEO of one super-tanker fleet, and "all of this oil needs to go somewhere," which is why the surge in super-tankers to a seven year high strong suggests all is not well in the world's hopeful 'demand' picture. With charter rates up a stunning 57% in the last few weeks with millions of barrels being stored on ships is another indication that the oil glut is yet to dissipate (and in fact, as Bloomberg reports, is getting worse - with almost half a billion barrels of oil in transit to buyers at the start of June, the most this year). With OPEC's meeting around the corner, a sudden realization of this rising glut may send prices plummeting once again.

 

Four months into oil’s rebound from a six-year low, the tanker market is sending a clear signal that the rally is under threat. As Bloomberg reports,

A sudden surge in demand for supertankers drove benchmark charter rates 57 percent higher in the two weeks through May 20. OPEC will have almost half a billion barrels of oil in transit to buyers at the start of June, the most this year, while analysts say about 20 million barrels is being stored on ships in another indication the glut has yet to dissipate.

 

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is pumping the most oil in more than two years, determined to defend market share rather than prices. A record cut to the number of active U.S. drilling rigs and billions of dollars of spending reductions by companies since last year’s price plunge has yet to translate into a slump in barrels produced. The world is pumping about 1.9 million barrels a day more crude than it needs, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

 

“Supply of oil continues to build,” said Paddy Rodgers, the chief executive officer of Antwerp, Belgium-based Euronav NV, whose supertanker fleet can haul 56 million barrels of crude. “All of this oil needs to go somewhere,” he wrote in an e-mail May 19.

 

Daily rates for supertankers on the industry’s benchmark route reached $83,412 on May 20, from $52,987 on May 6, according to the Baltic Exchange in London. While rates since retreated to $65,784, they’re still the highest for this time of year since at least 2008.

 

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Spare tanker capacity in the Middle East has seldom been tighter. The combined excess of ships competing for the region’s exports stood at 6 percent last week, the lowest for the time of year in Bloomberg surveys of shipbrokers that started in 2009.

 

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“The summer is not usually the time when rates really should go high,” Odysseus Valatsas, chartering manager at Dynacom Tankers Management in Glyfada, Greece, said by phone May 21.

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Last night's API inventory build also throws the "peak production" hopers meme under the bus.

Of course, for those looking for a silver lining here, there is always the kiss of death to super-tanker fleet operators...