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Shale gas phenomenon changing tanker trading patterns

The US shale gas phenomenon is having an effect on traditional trading patterns, and owners and operators will have to react to this, said Navig8 Group coo Andrew Hoare at the Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference's Tanker and Gas Market Outlook panel.

"On the VLCC trade there is going to be a substantial change in their loading and ballast patterns with the advent of the US production and their exports," he said.

Over the next two years, two-thirds of the vessels that load in the Atlantic, Caribbean and US Gulf of Mexico would have arrived unladen from China or from the Far East as opposed to almost 100% that would have been laden with Saudi oil in the past.

"I don't believe that there is going to be a return to the VLCC," Hoare declared, noting also the emergence of the clean Suezmaxes or what has been dubbed LR3s. "From a ship owner's perspective I'd rather back the LR2s and hope that the LR3 doesn't come along but if it does, we will certainly look at it," he said.

From a smaller shipowner's perspective Valles Steamship executive director Wellington Koo quipped: "We're a small company so small is good."

He added that the company would rather stick to the traditional aframax sizes and even LR2s and MRs. "That provides us as the operator with a lot more flexibility," Koo said.

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