Tanker Rates Expected To Rise In Year's First Half

Friday, January 07, 2000
Large tanker rates will increase during the first half of 2000 but freight prices will ease in the second period as new VLCCs are delivered, Norwegian shipbroker P.F. Bassoe A/S & Co. said. Bassoe predicts that tanker demand will increase by 2.6 percent over 2000 on the basis that OPEC output restraints would remain in place until March 2000 and a gradual production increase will follow. Increased crude exports would be driven by rising Asian demand and a slight increase in U.S. imports, the broker said in its report for 1999. The creation of a 38 strong pool fleet of VLCCs early this year by a group of six major tanker owners could also help lift rates, Bassoe said. "We expect there may be a short term tightening and firmer rates during the first half of 2000 driven by increased crude exports as well as the initial impact of the VLCC pool," the broker said. The pool would account for 37 percent of modern spot tonnage not owned by oil majors, it said. However, many shipping analysts believe the pool will not be large enough to be able to influence freight rate levels. Bassoe also said it expected the pressure on rates to ease off during the second half as the 38 vessels to be delivered in 2000 enter the market. Depressed rates in 1999 led to a final tally of 35 UL/VLCC and 24 Suezmax tankers being sold for demolition over the year, compared with 15 and seven respectively in 1998. However, scrapping did not quite reach the level of new vessel deliveries last year and firmer rates in 2000 meant the demolition rate was likely to drop again, Bassoe said.

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