Tanker owners are in for rough seas over the course of 2017, as rates aren’t bound for a recovery anytime soon, at least according to one of them. Teekay Tankers noted in its analysis and outlook of the tanker market, that “altough we recorded stronger average spot tanker rates for its Aframax and LR2 Product tanker fleets and rates similar for its Suezmax tanker in the first quarter of 2017, compared with rates for the fourth quarter 2016, the tanker market experienced downward pressure over the course of the first quarter due to heavy refinery maintenance, OPEC supply cuts and higher tanker fleet growth. However, changing trade patterns due to OPEC production cuts have provided support for mid-sized spot tanker rates, as a decline in Middle Eastern oil exports resulted in an increase in ton-mile intensive Atlantic Basin to Asia oil movements”.
Teekay Tankers said that “since the start of 2017, OPEC has implemented 1.2 million barrels per day (mb/d) of oil production cuts in an effort to rebalance oil prices. Compliance with these cuts by OPEC members was 92 percent as of March 2017, with most cuts coming from Saudi Arabia. While OPEC cuts are negative for overall oil volumes available for transport, the mid-sized segments have found some support from increased ton-mile demand as Asian buyers look to Atlantic Basin supply to replace reduced OPEC barrels. For the first four months of 2017, U.S. crude exports averaged 0.4 mb/d higher year-on-year, and reached 1.0 mb/d by mid-March 2017. Overall, U.S. crude volumes are increasingly moving to Asian and European buyers, which is supportive of mid-sized tanker demand. In February 2017, China imported 0.3 mb/d of U.S. crude, overtaking Canada as the largest importer of U.S. Crude. In addition to these positive trade fundamentals, global oil demand growth remains robust with forecast growth of approximately 1.3 mb/d in 2017, according to the IEA. This growth is expected to provide further support for mid-sized tanker rates during an otherwise challenging freight rate environment”.
In 2017, “we anticipate high tanker fleet growth to present headwinds to the crude spot tanker market. During the first four months of 2017, the world tanker fleet grew by 12.1 million deadweight tons (mdwt), or 2.2 percent. Total tanker fleet growth for 2017 is forecast to be 24.1 mdwt, or approximately 4.3 percent, which is slightly lower than 2016 but consistent with the ten-year average. Mid-size tanker fleet growth is expected to be around 10.7 mdwt, or approximately 5.6 percent, for 2017. After two years of record low scrapping, the Company believes that scrapping has the potential to ramp up in the near-term given the current weakness in spot tanker rates combined with an aging fleet across all segments. New regulations, including ballast water management, may also increase scrapping in the medium-term”.
Overall, Teekay Tankers expects 2017 to be a year of softer tanker rates compared to 2016. “However, growing crude oil supply in the Atlantic moving long-haul to Asia is expected to provide some underlying support to help offset the negative fundamentals of lower OPEC supply and a period of higher fleet growth. The Company anticipates this near-term dip in the market cycle to be relatively short-term in nature, as a lack of new tanker ordering in the mid-sized segments and increased scrapping due to regulatory changes, as well as a more balanced oil market, is expected to lead to a renewed market upturn in 2018”, the company concluded.
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Source: Teekay Tankers