Any easing of OPEC oil output restraints would
be unlikely to create a shipping shortage despite charterers currently avoiding older tankers, ship brokers and analysts said. Signs that OPEC oil producers could
relax their four million barrel a day output restraints in April which have lifted Brent oil prices to over $27.00 a barrel, were unlikely to cause demand to outstrip tanker supply, they said.
This was despite charterers seeking to use newer vessels since the 25-year-old tanker Erika broke up off France in December causing heavy pollution. The Erika factor has caused rates to soar in some areas on a lack of prompt modern vessels, but most markets including the Key Middle Eastern VLCC sector remain over tonnaged, they said. Last week North Sea rates for 80,000 ton Aframax vessels hit post-Gulf War highs of Worldscale 200 points (about $7.50 per ton) as ships under 15 years of age became hard to find for late February dates.
But any rise in rates or surge in demand could slow the scrapping rate.