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One of the worst hit segments of the crude tanker market appears to be the Suezmax one, which has been taking one blow after another in recent days. According to the latest weekly report from London-based shipbroker Gibson, "with the winter season traditionally being the strongest time of the year for earnings, it is a worrying tale that in the fourth quarter of 2012, TD5 earnings averaged a mere $13,500/day compared to the 2012 average of $16,750/day. Earnings did manage to briefly climb above $25,000/day in the pre Christmas holiday surge, but come the New Year, levels were eroded on an almost daily basis" Gibson said.
It added that "on several occasions slow speed earnings hovered around or even below fixed operating costs. It was therefore some relief last week for owners who were fortunate enough to be in the fixing window when a sudden charge in demand from West Africa allowed earnings to recover back into the high teens. But alas, it looks like the spike has been short-lived with rates peaking at WS66 early this week, before softening back at the close" the report said.Gibson added that "the Freight Forward market expects TD5 earnings for 2013 to be around $8,250/day. Ouch! The culprit of the stuttering market? The oversupply of the Suezmax fleet coupled with the reduced demand from the US for West African grades. Whilst we can’t do much to influence US oil demand requirements for light crude, let us look at the supply of the Suezmax fleet.
It is well documented that the Suezmax orderbook is, together with the VLCCs, the highest growth sector of all the tanker segments. Currently 64 Suezmax are on order, that’s 14% of the existing fleet of 472 vessels. Yes, that growth is strong, and yes it appears excessive given the age profile of the fleet is very young – over 40% of the trading fleet is less than 55 years old and there are few potential scrap candidates" the report said.Providing some room for optimism though, Gibson stated that "of those 64vessels on order, we believe about 10 are being built as DP2s for specific timecharter requirements such as Petrobras ‘shuttle’ operations off Brazil. Such charters are 15 year contracts at reportedly huge premiums over “standard” timecharter rates (they need to be to justify the considerable purchase price involved). The huge investment by both the owners and the timecharterers suggest it is unlikely such vessels will ever come to trade on or influence the spot market. So we are suggesting that whilst there is no disguising that the Suezmax fleet is young and plentiful, it is perhaps not quite as large as a quick glance at the statistics would suggest". Source; Hellenic Shipping news
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