"A collapse in the number of tankers booked to haul 2 million-barrel cargoes of Middle East oil to the U.S. may be a sign that the world’s largest crude buyer is poised to cut imports, a Morgan Stanley analyst said. Twelve very large crude carriers were booked last month to ship Persian Gulf crude to the U.S., compared with 37 in May, Fotis Giannakoulis, a New York-based analyst at the investment bank, said in an e-mailed report today . . . . U.S. oil production averaged 5.99 million barrels a day this year, according to the Energy Department. That would be the highest annual average since 1998. Bookings to the U.S. climbed in May because Motiva Enterprises LLC was preparing to supply 325,000 barrels a day of oil to a new crude distillation unit at Port Arthur, Texas, according to a June 29 report from Poten & Partners, a New York- based shipbroker. An outage of the unit may continue for several months, Motiva said June 25. There are 140 VLCCs available in the Persian Gulf for the next 30 days, up from 95 on June 1, according to the Morgan Stanley report. The monthly average spot rate for the tankers is $16,000 a day, half of what they earned in May, it said. "