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Sat 5 Feb 2011 07:38 PM

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Tanker rates have biggest weekly gain of 2011 on western demand

Charter rates for VLCCs on the industry’s benchmark Saudi Arabia-to-Japan voyage rose 11 percent

Tanker rates have biggest weekly gain of 2011 on western demand
Daily returns from the benchmark route climbed 8.2 percent to $9,280 today, rounding out a 37 percent weekly jump (Getty Images)

The cost of
shipping Middle East crude oil to Asia, the world’s busiest route for supertankers,
had this year’s biggest weekly advance on hire demand from Western countries.

Charter
rates for very large crude carriers, or VLCCs, on the industry’s benchmark
Saudi Arabia-to-Japan voyage rose 11 percent this week to 49.8 Worldscale
points, according to the Baltic Exchange in London. That was the largest gain
since the week ended Dec 24. Rates climbed 0.8 percent today.

“While China
is on holiday, activity by Western charterers has been good, perhaps taking
advantage of a less-crowded environment,” Dag Kilen, an analyst with RS Platou
Markets AS in Oslo, said in an e-mailed note today. There’s “limited downside”
to the market in the short-term, he said, citing brokers.

Daily
returns from the benchmark route climbed 8.2 percent to $9,280 today, rounding
out a 37 percent weekly jump.

China’s
weeklong break for the Lunar New Year started on Feb 2. The Organization of
Petroleum Exporting Countries will raise crude shipments 1.7 percent through
next month amid strong demand from Asia, according to tanker tracker Oil
Movements. OPEC, whose members include Venezuela and Iran, accounts for about
40 percent of global oil supply.

Loadings
will rise to 24.1 million barrels a day in the four weeks to Feb 19 from 23.7
million barrels in the period to Jan 22, Oil Movements said yesterday in a
report.

Worldscale
points are a percentage of a nominal rate, or flat rate, for more than 320,000
specific routes. Flat rates for every voyage, quoted in US dollars a metric
ton, are revised annually by the Worldscale Association in London to reflect
changing fuel costs, port tariffs and exchange rates.

Each flat
rate assessment gives owners and oil companies a starting point for negotiating
hire rates without having to calculate the value of each deal from scratch.

Daily
returns from suezmax tankers that haul 1 million barrel cargoes, half as much
as VLCCs, jumped 42 percent to $11,534, according to the exchange. Returns from
aframaxes that carry 650,000 barrels gained 36 percent to $1,819 a day.

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