July 20th, 2000 22:00 GMT
Published in WEEKLY
CHINA OIL cargoes from the Middle East and West Africa have risen sharply this year with a big swing towards the use of VLCCs, according to new figures.
Cargo volumes from the Persian Gulf/Red Sea area and West Africa are up 88% for the period January to July compared with a year earlier.
There have been a total of 256 fixtures carrying 38.78 million tonnes, against 140 fixtures of 20.58 million tonnes in the same period of 1999. The figures complied by Riaz Khan of Switzerland-based Marinav Shipping & Trading show that 92 VLCCs were fixed, more than double the 41 of a year earlier.
It means that so far this year VLCCs have carried more China oil cargoes (23.22 million tonnes) than the total for all tanker sizes during the first half of 1999.
Last year 48.4% of China oil cargoes went on VLCCs, but this year the proportion has risen to 70.3%.
The shift towards VLCCs, which so far this year have accounted for 35.9% of fixtures against 29.3% at the same stage in 1999, has affected Suezmaxes.
From West Africa 25 VLCCs have accounted for 81.9% (6.47 million tonnes) of China cargoes compared with 12 smaller tankers lifting 1.43 million tonnes (18.1%).
From the Persian Gulf/Red Sea up to July there have been 64 China VLCC fixtures (52.9%) compared with 41 (29.3%) in the same period a year earlier.
Meanwhile, Vela International Marine of Saudi Arabia is still the main charterer out of the Middle East in ULCC/VLCCs, according to Marinav.
In the period of January to July, it accounted for 20.4 million tonnes of cargo, down by 938,000 tonnes. Second placed Shell is up again, this time by 582,000 tonnes to 20.3 million tonnes.
Ssangyong has taken third place with 15.43 million tonnes after increasing its cargo total on a year earlier by 3.68 million tonnes.
By Geoff Garfield