Better information is the key to higher tanker rates

Better information is the key to higher tanker rates

Shipowners need to turn information on the behaviour of charterers to their own advantage if they are to lift freight rates, says Intertanko.

November 30th, 1995 23:00 GMT

by By Geoff Garfield

Published in WEEKLY

Charterers have the advantage of various tools to manipulate the market,

notably by concealing demand through private fixing, and adjusting

their programs according to tonnage availability.

The international tanker owners’ organization warns its members that

charterers can also give the impression that supply has increased by

suddenly making relets available, fixing further forward, and

expressing an interest in tankers they do not really want.

“These are of course psychological rather than fundamental supply and

demand factors, but nevertheless, at times they seem to have a

considerable impact on rates,” says Intertanko in its latest tanker

market report to be published today (December 1).

Improving accessibility

The organization says better information on charterers – including

actual need for a special size or standard of vessel – coupled with a

refusal to allow forward fixing to confuse the market, may be

sufficient to bolster rates.

“We see the need to improve accessibility of information on charterers’

fixing patterns and behaviour in the market,” Intertanko research

manager Erik Ranheim tells TradeWinds, adding: “The focus today is

mainly on the tanker and its owner, whereas too little is known about

the needs of the charterers.”

Intertanko cites one leading broker as saying that brokers continue to

persuade owners to fix at the first opportunity.

The Oslo-based organization says that majors such as Exxon, Chevron,

Shell and Mobil still have sufficient fleets, including period

charters, to influence the market in their favour.

Information exchange

The issue was also taken up this week by Geneva-based broker Riaz Khan

of Marinav Shipping and Trading, who is pushing for an information

exchange, “possibly within an organization like Intertanko.” In the

proposed exchange, brokers and owners would report deals in which they

are directly involved. The source would remain confidential.

Khan says the time has come for owners to have accurate, up-to-date

information on potential cargoes, the position of ships, and what

vessels have been fixed for lifting’s in future months, rather than

relying on what is happening in the market day to day.

“What owners should concentrate on is what has happened during the year,

what tonnage is available, and what cargoes are left,” says Khan.

“Analyze it before taking a position in the market.”

Khan, who insists that his suggestion for an information exchange should

be seen as leveling the playing field rather than a confrontation with

charterers, says a classic situation arose earlier this year in the

Middle East Gulf when Worldscale rates fell despite fixture levels

remaining high.