Due to rather severe summer doldrums, earnings across all tanker sectors dropped to levels not seen since September 2014. Tanker rates typically stage a recovery going into the northern hemisphere winter months, however, according to Poten & Partners, there are concerns that this might not happen to the same extent this year.
In its latest tanker opinion, Poten & Partners revealed the main drivers of the market that could shape the rate environment in the second half of 2016.
Fleet growth in the first half of this year has contributed to the pressure on rates. In the first half of 2016, 23 VLCCs have been delivered, which is already equivalent to the full-year deliveries for each of 2014 and 2015, while another 37 vessels are scheduled for delivery in the second half of the year. The situation in the other tanker segments is similar, however, the main exception is the MR segment as the inflow of new tonnage has started to slow.
Furthermore, only a handful of tankers have been scrapped so far this year and, given the age distribution of the tanker fleet, a significant pickup during the remainder of 2016 is not expected.
However, the tanker supply factor that could possibly drive rates higher is increased floating storage as well as tanker demand.
The year 2016 started well enough as tanker trades were supported by the re-entry of Iran in the export market as well as growing U.S. crude oil imports, but the second quarter of 2016 witnessed several unforeseen events which reduced oil flows worldwide.
Many of the factors that negatively influenced the tanker market are likely to turn around in the second half of the year, Poten & Partners said, adding that, “at this point in the cycle there is obviously a lot more upside potential than downside risk.”
Canadian production has been restored, for example, and outsized inventory draws in the U.S. are expected to come to an end as well. There are promising signs coming from Libya, where an agreement has been announced to reopen several export terminals, while U.S. airstrikes may reduce the threat of further oil disruptions.
Analysts indicate that an additional 300,000 barrels/day of production and exports is possible in the near term.