VLCC Owners Rise From the Ashes in Wake of Supertanker Alliance

Wednesday, August 22, 2001
Wednesday fixture lists showed that VLCC owners had rallied in the wake of supertanker alliance Tankers International, following its example by pinning down deals at levels more than a third up on Monday's rates.

Astro Centaurus, controlled by Greek magnate John Angelicoussis, was fixed out to Shell for an eastbound cargo from the Mideast Gulf at W57.5, while the Hyundai managed Universal Brave was booked by Singapore Petroleum Company for a similar journey at the same level, brokers said.

The VLCC market plunged in June when Iraq cut output in protest at a joint U.S./British plan to revamp sanctions in place since the 1991 Gulf War. Brokers and analysts had predicted the slump would persist through September, when OPEC cutbacks were expected to hit demand.

Last Wednesday, however, Petronas required a VLCC with only two days notice, allowing Tankers International to corner the deal and force the rate up from a market of W41 to W57.7, a gain of about 22 cents per barrel or $440,000 in total. Brokers said that level would not be repeated for September cargoes, but on Tuesday Tankers International pinned down three deals at W60 for early September loading.

While all the Tankers International wins have been for prompt loading dates, Wednesday's fixtures for the Hyundai and Angelicoussis ships were the first at levels over W55 for mid-September loading.

However, Tankers International CEO Michael Steimler played down the group's acheivements on Tuesday, stating that even at W57.5 the alliance's ships were struggling to turn a profit.

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