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Crude Trade Shrinking Most Since Recession Seen Curbing Tankers

June 11, 2013

World trade in crude oil shrank the most last quarter since the global recession, leading to lower earnings for tankers and stunting the industry’s recovery, according to RS Platou Markets AS.

Global imports slumped 4 percent compared with a year earlier as shipments declined to the U.S. and China, the biggest buyers, the Oslo-based investment bank said in an e-mailed report today. Rates for the largest tankers, known as VLCCs, will average $15,000 a day this year, down from a previous estimate of $20,000, according to the report.

Surging production in the U.S. cut imports by 20 percent, and the cargoes aren’t going to other countries as high prices curb demand, Platou said in the report. Imports to China, the main source of demand growth, slid 2 percent, Platou estimated. Next year will be little changed and the market will start to recover in 2015 as fleet growth slows, according to the report.

“High-cost oil production in the U.S. is surging, squeezing out seaborne imports, which in turn have nowhere else to go because high prices are also contributing to keeping oil demand growth tepid,” Ole-Rikard Hammer, head of research at RS Platou Economic Research, said in the report. “VLCCs have taken the main beating, given their exposure to long-haul trades to both the U.S. and China.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Isaac Arnsdorf in London at

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

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