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Tanker owners enjoy better first quarter

Tanker owners enjoy better first quarter
The first quarter of 2014 has ended rather better for the crude tanker market than the equivalent period last year and mostly better for the clean and dirty products markets.

Average earnings for VLCCs according to Clarkson Research figures, have been almost $30,000 a day this year, while suezmaxes have averaged $31,000 a day on four main routes, aframaxes $29,000 a day. Equivalent figures in last year's first quarter were a miserable $8,000 a day for VLCCs, $15,000 for suezmaxes and $15,000 for aframaxes.

In the clean products market while MRs have not improved their average earnings of just over $10,000 a day, handysizes have pushed up to over $21,000 a day from $16,000 for the same period last year. In the dirty market, earnings this year have been almost $24,000 a day against $14,000 in first quarter 2013.

All of which suggests a market in gradual recovery although we are moving into traditionally weaker quarters with winter turning to spring.

Time charter rates for large crude tankers have taken a large uptick - VLCCs from below $20,000 last year for a one-year charter to about $26,000 now - though there have been few period fixtures so far suggesting that charterers are hardly panicking yet.

Supply remains an issue but the numbers are coming down with only 13% of the overall tanker fleet now on order for delivery over the next few years.

While consumption growth according to energy analysts is going to be anaemic at 1.4% or so for the next couple of years it is at least growing. Changing trade patterns are generally helping tonne mile demand in many oil and product trades.

While nobody is holding their breath, the tanker market may be emerging gradually from a grim period in its always chequered economic history.

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