Chinese hire more tankers during 2011, but still not enough to lead freight rates higher
Saturday, 14 January 2012 | 00:00
In a recent report Poten & Partners provided an insight of the total crude tanker fixture activity. "Nominally, total dirty fixture levels generally remained the same in 2011 versus the previous year, however the VLCC and Suezmax sectors saw increases while the Aframax and Panamax sectors experienced declines. The influence of increased Chinese activity on development of the market cannot be overstated. While Shell again reigned supreme as the top spot charterer of dirty tankers, this title was largely the result of their Aframax program which accounted for 467, or 70%, of their 661 reported fixtures. Unipec, the second runner for most dirty fixtures concluded, had a total of 586 fixtures of which 449 (77%) were VLCCs. Unipec has risen rapidly through the ranks over the past five years and Petrochina’s influence has similarly risen to the number 9 spot in 2011 with 244 dirty fixtures reported. VLCC fixtures accounted for 152, or 62%, of Petrochina’s reported dirty fixtures. Total SA was displaced from the Top 5 in 2011, while Chevron’s increased Suezmax activity brought them up to occupy the number 4 spot" said Poten.
In the VLCC sector, Poten said that not surprisingly, Chinese charterers dominate the top slots of the VLCC chart. The only oil majors to place in 2011’s top ten were ExxonMobil, with 104 reported fixtures, and Shell, which maintained overall volumes in the low 60’s. GS Caltex and CPC tied for the number 10 spot in 2011 with 48 fixtures each.
In the Suezmax segment, the report mentioned that the total Suezmax spot market "appears to
have grown by about 2% from 2010 totals. Sunoco was last year’s top Suezmax charter but has slipped to the number four spot on reduced refinery runs in the Philadelphia area. Chevron and Petrobras have overtaken the first and second positions, respectively, showing the increased impact of Brazilian crude volumes on Suezmax demand. ExxonMobil has made it back onto the top ten list with 91 reported Suezmax fixtures in 2011. Valero has also returned to occupy a top spot displacing Clearlake as number 10 on the list" said Poten.
In the Aframax spot market, reported fixture data suggests that it has "continued to shrink partially as a result of structurally shrinking crude oil export volumes in their primary markets, namely the UK Continent and Caribbean. Total fixture volumes decreased 3% year on year. Shell is once again the top player in the Aframax spot market, a position that it has maintained for the past five years. The top 10 players have stayed the same, however their respective rankings have changed up somewhat. Spot fixture data for 2011 suggests that Clearlake, ExxonMobil, Total and Vitol have each seen shrinking demand for spot dirty Aframaxes. On the other hand, BP, Lukoil, Shell and Socar have logged more fixtures in 2011 versus 2010" stated Poten.
Finally, on the Panamax front, spot volumes "continued to shrink in 2011, falling 14% year on year to 686 fixtures. Chevron replaced BP as the top dirty Panamax charterer with 63 reported fixtures. BP on the other hand logged 46 fixtures in 2011, reflecting a 25% in spot charter volumes since 2010. Petrobras was new to the top 10 list, with 32 reported spot fixtures in 2011. While reported spot market fixtures represent only a portion of total fixture volume, the activity seen over 2011 does reaffirm the major themes of the year’s tanker market. The evolving profile of the top spot tanker charterers speaks to the increased role east of Chinese and Indian demand in the tanker market. These still‐growing players are likely to play in increasingly important role in directing crude oil freight markets in the year ahead" concluded Poten.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide