Older tankers still dominate in the Gulf

Older tankers still dominate in the Gulf

Charterers are still relying heavily on mid-1970s-built tankers to haul most of their oil out of the Persian Gulf.

October 5th, 1995 23:00 GMT

by By Geoff Garfield


Published in WEEKLY

Geneva-based broker Riaz Khan of Marinav Shipping and Trading says the bulk of fixtures logged so far this year involves “over-age” tankers, with 15- to 23-year-old ships still being the “workhorses of the industry.”

In the period January-September 1995, ULCCs and VLCCs built between 1974 and 1976 accounted for 338 fixtures. Modern ships, of which there are far fewer, trailed a long way behind. Only 1993-built vessels came even close, with 80 fixtures.

Inheritance of old tonnage

The statistics compiled by Khan reflect the tanker building boom of the 1970s, which has left an inheritance of old tonnage plying the trade lanes to Europe, the US and Far East. Khan points out that even charterers with strict quality requirements are still prepared to take older tonnage from reputable owners, such as Stena and Bergesen.

An example last week was the charter by Petrobras of Bergesen’s 1973-built Berge Prince for 2 million barrels of crude from the Gulf to Brazil, at a reported Worldscale (WS) 50, even though modern tonnage was competing for the charter.

Premium for modern ships

Khan’s figures show, however, that modern tonnage is earning a premium of around four WS points. Tankers one to 10 years old have been getting a weighted average of WS 54.3, against WS 50.1 for 20-23 year old vessels, although exceptions exist.

In terms of ULCCs only, 1983-built ships have been attracting an average of WS 55.4, compared with just WS 41.6 for vessels of 1976 vintage. The figures again reflect the bulge of ULCC construction in the 1970s, and scarcity of 300,000-dwt-plus ships in the 1980s.

As for VLCCs, 1995-built vessels have averaged WS 61.7, against WS 49.2 for those 21 years older.

‘Top gun’ charterers

Of the “top gun” charterers, Khan says Exxon leads the field with 55 fixtures involving 18.46 million tons, followed by Vela (44 fixtures) and National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) (41 fixtures). Shell is fourth with 32 fixtures, although if all its subsidiaries and affiliates are included, the view is that it could be the leading Persian Gulf charterer.

Korean fixtures

Korean charterers also feature strongly, in the form of Ssanyong (37 fixtures), Yukong (34), Hanwha (24) and Honam (22). Exxon again appears to be striking some of the most lucrative deals. It paid a weighted average WS rate of only 43.40, compared with Idemitsu’s WS 55.9, although the US oil giant’s lifting’s are generally much bigger, enabling it to benefit from a mix of tonnage sizes.