Bloomberg News

Shell Hired Most Tankers in 2011, Unipec Was Second, Poten Says

January 09, 2012

Jan. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, was the world’s largest charterer of tankers to haul crude in 2011 even as Asian traders increased market share, Poten & Partners said.

Shell hired 661 tankers, or 7 percent of all charters reported by shipbrokers, according to a report by New York-based Poten published Jan. 6. China International United Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Unipec, ranked second with 586 tankers, it showed. The Asian company was the 14th-largest charterer five years ago and fifth-biggest in 2010, Poten said.

“The influence of increased Chinese activity on the development of the market cannot be overstated,” Poten said in the report, which ranked companies that hired the four most popular classes of tankers for single voyages. The shipbroker and energy consultancy counted charters reported to the market, known as fixtures.

Unipec hired 449 very large crude carriers, the world’s largest tankers, or 23 percent of fixtures for the class, followed by PetroChina Co. with 152 charters and Indian Oil Corp. with 120. Each VLCC can carry 2 million barrels of oil.

Shell maintained its position as the leading overall charterer of tankers as it hired the most aframax vessels for five consecutive years, Poten said. An aframax can haul 730,000 barrels of oil.

Reported single-voyage fixtures were only a portion of overall charters, according to the shipbroker.

“The evolving profile of the top spot tanker charterers speaks to the increased role of Chinese and Indian demand in the tanker market,” Poten said. “Still-growing” ship users in those countries are “likely to play an increasingly important role in directing crude oil freight markets in the year ahead,” it said.

Unipec is the trading division of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the country’s largest oil refiner, known as Sinopec. PetroChina is a unit of China National Petroleum Corp., the nation’s biggest energy producer. Indian Oil is the largest refiner in the South Asian country.

--Editors: Dan Weeks, John Deane.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michelle Wiese Bockmann in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at

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