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Industry Opinions

 

Déjà vu all over again?
September 12, 2014

Will the 2014/15 winter tanker market be a repeat of the previous one?


As the regular US baseball season is winding down, the fans are looking forward to the playoffs. Similarly, the people involved in the tanker market are back in full swing after the summer and start to focus on the winter season. For owners, this often means the possibility of higher earnings, while the refiners, at least in the colder, northern hemisphere regions, are preparing by building stocks and switching to winter fuel specs.
 

 
To Asia with Love
September 05, 2014
Growing Caribbean exports to Asia create a tighter VLCC market in the US Gulf

Back in March 2001, a VLCC was fixed from the Caribbean to India with a cargo of Venezuelan crude oil for the first time ever. At the time, this was a highly unusual movement, but it was clearly a harbinger of things to come.
 
Mind the Gap!
August 29, 2014
Poten will start assessing TC rates for both ECO and non-ECO vessels

In 2011, as rising crude oil prices pushed bunker prices to new highs, shipyards started to market new tanker designs. When bunker prices reached $600/MT (for 380cst), fuel accounted for the majority of freight costs, and many tanker owners resorted to “slow steaming” to reduce fuel expenses. Speed proved to be much less important than fuel consumption in this market environment.
 
Another Storage Play in the Bay?
August 22, 2014
Enter Tankers from Stage Left

During the last few days, various articles in the oil and shipping press have hinted at the possibility that renewed contango in the oil markets could lead to increased storage plays after several Suezmaxes were fixed for discharge in Saldanha Bay, South Africa.
 
Slip…N’ Slide into Better Times
August 15, 2014
Although the Caribbean market for Aframaxes has taken a precipitous tumble this week, other tanker segments have maintained healthy spot rates suggesting that vessel oversupply could be moderating in the general sense. A look at the current orderbook across all segments provides some insight as to what is still coming down the pike, but more curiously what has slipped or has fallen off the radar all together. Since ordering momentum continues, due in large part to a feeling that the market is coming off of cycle lows, the threat of vessel oversupply looms. However, the uptick in ton-mile demand could offset the incremental new tonnage supply in the near term.
 
Dig, Dig, Dig Señora
August 08, 2014
While infrastructure projects, especially canals, bear a certain element of inherent skepticism, their impact on global trade flows should not be taken lightly. Although the Panama Canal’s expansion will likely have a more muted effect on the tanker market than other shipping sectors, cost overruns and work stoppage has evoked a ho-hum prognosis for the project in general. While endeavoring not to pile on to initial project hype, the recent announcements about the construction of a second Caribbean to Pacific canal, in Nicaragua, should prick some ears.
 
An Issue of Sulf-Deprecation
August 01, 2014
Throughout the past decade, the worldwide fuel de-sulfurization effort has permeated many industries, not the least of which is shipping. Although still highly regionalized, the upcoming changes to marine fuel specifications in North America and the North and Baltic Seas have many shipowners, especially those with spot market exposure, rightfully concerned about the impact to their collective bottom lines. Emission Control Areas, or ECAs, that effectively restrict the amount of sulfur and particulate matter emitted by ships geographically, are in the process of being ratified in stages by the International Maritime Organization. While it is true that the Worldscale system makes a special provision for the additional costs associated with calling ports subject to stricter fuel specifications, the rigidity of the remuneration process could likely still leave many exposed.
 
Turn Down For What?
July 25, 2014
In general, the seasonality of the tanker market typically leads to weaker spot market rates in the mid-late summer months. Historically, the fourth and first quarters of the year have had the strongest freight rates, for most sectors, due to heightened winter demand in the northern hemisphere, weather and restricted daylight hours in key ports or waterways. However, this summer, it appears that freight rates could be on the brink of a trend buck. The relative, general firmness across most of the crude tanker sectors suggests that stronger crude oil demand may now be pitted against what could ultimately be considered moderating supply.
 
Lock, Stock a Barrel: The Return of Contango?
July 18, 2014
The swirl of political events and policy changes over the past few weeks has churned out mixed results for the crude oil markets. At this point it is difficult to characterize the state of the market as anything but flux. The persistence of geopolitical unrest – Ukraine v. Russia, Iraq v. Iraq, and Israel v. Gaza – has supported overall price levels above near-term historical averages. But, crude oil price benchmarks that typically move in tandem, diverged this week. Perhaps eclipsing the shaky political climate, infrastructure developments and policy changes have, at least for the short-term, apparently decoupled the US crude oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), and its European counterpart, Brent, in potentially significant ways. While it is too soon to say whether this will be sustained, this development could raise some interesting prospects for the tanker market.
 
Ain’t That the Cure for the Summertime Blues
July 11, 2014
It seems that there is somewhat of a renewed optimism in the tanker market. Whether it is warranted or not, remains to be seen. With half of the year now behind us, a fresh look at oil demand fundamentals reveals stronger-than-anticipated growth in both OECD and non-OECD countries, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). In addition, this week, pockets of the spot tanker market showed surprising signs of life after what could generally be considered a fairly quiet May and June. While it is likely too soon to assess the longevity of positive support in freight rates, demand growth coupled with seeming supply moderation could be an early indication that the market at least has the potential for rebalance.
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