Tanker operator’s hopes have been buoyed recently by a sharp upturn in crude tanker rates. Historically, tanker rates over the last two months of the year are the seasonally strongest, and this seems to be playing out this year, according to PIRA Energy Group's latest Market Recap.
VLCC rates have risen to the highest levels since November 2012, supported by the end of the Far East refinery maintenance period and record levels of Chinese imports. Western fixtures are also high in November as term contract formula prices for Saudi, Kuwaiti and other Mideast grades, which are indexed to U.S. domestic sour crudes, are more than $10.00 per barrel below those for shipments to Europe and Asia.
Brent crude prices likely to move back higher
PIRA Energy Group report that on the week, U.S. product stocks declined, while in Japan crude stocks jumped. Specifically, PIRA’s analysis of the oil market fundamentals has revealed the following:
Brent crude prices have moved into the lower half of their recent trading range but are likely to be poised to move back higher as refiners return from maintenance. U.S. Gulf crudes are currently weaker compared to Brent with building U.S. inventories but should improve relatively over the next month.
Atlantic Basin distillate cracks are firm and should strengthen further for another month with tight inventories in the Atlantic Basin in general despite large imports arriving into Europe. Gasoline cracks will stay seasonally weak. Refining margins in the U.S. are healthy with advantaged crude pricing but margins in Europe will stay thin.
Source: PIRA Energy