Transatlantic Balancing Act

August 11, 2023

Did the Ukraine war change transatlantic product flows?

The transatlantic product trades have been a staple for the Medium Range (MR) product tanker market for decades.  MRs are being used to balance the product markets on both sides of the Atlantic.  Europe typically exports gasoline to the United States and diesel would make the opposite trip. Ideally, the same vessel can get employed in both trades, moving European gasoline from Northwest Europe to the US East Coast and picking up a diesel cargo in the USG destined for Europe.These so-called triangulation voyages optimize a vessel’s utilization rate and can be highly lucrative.  The trades ebb and flow based on the relative economic conditions on both sides of the pond, and there is a distinct seasonality involved, in particular for the gasoline trade to the U.S.  Despite this, however, these trades have always generated a solid level of baseline demand for product carriers in the Atlantic Basin.

The question we will try to address in this Week’s Tanker Opinion is whether the sanctions on Russian oil, which have disrupted global trade flows, have also impacted the transatlantic product trades.  And if so, was it positive or negative.

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