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(Updates with Baltic Exchange rates in third paragraph, analyst comment in fourth.)
Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Gasoline shipments to the U.S. from Europe are set to reach a three-week high and the number of tankers available for the route may shrink, a Bloomberg News survey showed.
Traders and oil companies booked or were likely to hire 26 ships in the period to Feb. 23, according to the median estimate in a survey yesterday of six shipbrokers, two traders and one owner who specialize in shipping the auto fuel. That’s four more vessels than in the two weeks to Feb. 16 and the largest number since Jan. 19.
Daily returns for tankers carrying gasoline on the Rotterdam-to-New York voyage fell for a fourth day today to $10,131, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. That’s a 52 percent plunge from the start of the year. There are 29 vessels likely to be available to haul trans-Atlantic cargoes, a drop of one from last week, the survey showed.
After a positive start of the week, “the market quickly settled by mid-week and is now softer,” Oslo-based shipbroker Fearnleys AS said in an e-mailed report yesterday, referring to tankers hauling 37,000-ton cargoes to the U.S. from Europe.
The ships, known as medium-range tankers, would be able to carry about 8.18 million barrels of the fuel, or 584,000 barrels a day, over the next two weeks. That’s 74 percent of the 790,000 barrels the U.S. imported daily over the past year, according to the Department of Energy.
East Coast Shipments
Of the vessels chartered or due to be hired, 14 have been booked and 12 more are likely to be arranged, according to the survey. It is based on so-called spot, or single-voyage, hiring and excludes loadings under longer-term contracts. The survey assumes shipments to the U.S. East Coast from northwestern Europe. Each tanker would normally haul about 37,000 metric tons of gasoline, or 315,000 barrels.
Following is a table of ships chartered and likely to be hired for the trans-Atlantic route loading over the two-week periods from the dates shown. The table also displays the number of ships available to be booked.
*T Feb. 9 Feb. 2 Change Ships Hired 14 11 +27% Ships Likely to be Hired 12 11 +9% Total 26 22 +18% Available Ships 29 30 -3%