Monday, April 26, 2010

Traders Boost Oil Tanker Storage, Morgan Stanley Says

By Moming Zhou

April 26 (Bloomberg) -- Traders increased the number of vessels used to store crude oil by 75 percent last week as the potential profit from storage rose, Morgan Stanley said.

There were 21 oil tankers storing dirty products last week, 20 of them very-large crude carriers, up from 12 vessels in the previous week, Ole Slorer, a Morgan Stanley analyst, said in a report yesterday. Among the nine vessels are four in Iran.

About 41 million barrels of oil were stored in the tankers, Morgan Stanley said, enough to meet more than two days of U.S. consumption. That’s up from 24.5 million barrels a week ago.

“Part of the drive for floating storage is attributable to oil traders, taking advantage of the reappearance of a contango over the past few weeks,” Slorer said in the report.

Floating storage employs tankers that would otherwise be used to deliver cargoes. Traders store oil hoping to benefit from a so-called contango structure in futures markets, in which prompt prices are lower than contracts for later delivery. Traders can make money when the difference in prices is greater than the cost to charter the ship.

The contango between the front-month crude contract traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange and the second-month contract rose to $2.01 at 11 a.m. New York time, the highest level since Dec. 15, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Dirty products usually include crude oil and may include fuel oil.

Slorer also forecast that VLCC shipping rates will reach $47,444 a day in the second quarter, $37,583 in the third quarter, and $45,170 in the fourth quarter.

The VLCC rate was $43,876 a day as of April 23, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange. The rate has more than doubled this year. VLCCs can carry about 2 million barrels of oil.

--Editors: Dan Stets, Richard Stubbe.

To contact the reporter on this story: Moming Zhou in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at

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