Shell, Vela, ExxonMobil and Korea’s S-Oil again dominated liftings from the Middle East last year but the second tier of major tanker charterers threw up some big changes. March 7th, 2002 23:00 GMT by Geoff Garfield London Published in WEEKLY Indian companies out of the Middle East Gulf and Red Sea area were particularly active. Rising to fifth place with 85 fixtures of 15.15 million tonnes was the Reliance group, up from 14th place the previous year with 64 fixtures of 11.1 million tonnes. Compatriot SCI bounced into the top 10 with 119 fixtures of 10.64 million tonnes, up 3.3 million tonnes from a year earlier when it held 21st place on the volume list. The recent figures were compiled by market watcher Riaz Khan of Nedship Bank. He was previously with Marinav Shipping and Trading. Khan says 2001 also saw a marked increase in liftings by China, although this data is more difficult to track because of the large number of charterers. Zhuhai Zen, for example, lifted 8.8 million tonnes. Last year saw recently merged ChevronTexaco occupy sixth place on Khan’s list of 21 “Top Gun” charterers. It had 68 fixtures of 14.2 million tonnes. Although it represented only a modest increase of 697,000 tonnes, ChevronTexaco was able to move up from 12th spot. Korean charterers, however, have been slipping. Although S-Oil, previously known as Ssangyong Shipping, held onto fourth place, it was responsible for seven fewer fixtures and a 2.1 million-tonne drop in volume to 22.5 million tonnes. SK of Korea went from sixth to eighth place, down 4.4 million tonnes to 12 million tonnes. It fell from 64 fixtures in 2000 to 47 last year. Stentex was also down, posting 66 fixtures of 13.54 million tonnes, as compared with 113 fixtures of 19.6 million tonnes a year earlier. Second-place Vela had the largest drop in terms of volume. It was down from 33.5 million tonnes in 2000 to 25.9 million tonnes. Its fixtures tumbled from 100 to 72. Vela’s average Worldscale (WS) rate was down from WS 84.4 to WS 79.5. First-place Shell, with 32.6 million tonnes, dropped from WS 142.6 to WS 105.3. Third-place ExxonMobil, with 23.5 million tonnes, fell from WS 137.6 to WS 118.6. The statistics cover all vessel sizes. Khan says although India and China have become bigger players on the crude side, the opposite is true for products cargo because the two countries are doing more refining themselves. Meanwhile, Sun retained its position as the leading charterer from West Africa. It lifted 14.3 million tonnes, slightly ahead of the previous year. The Indian Oil Co shot up to second place in the region with 63 fixtures of 13.2 million tonnes, as compared with only 16 fixtures of 4.4 million tonnes in 2000.