Has Tanker Shipping Already Hit Its Peak?

Being the most profitable shipping industry at the moment, tankers are expected to experience a further rise in the third and fourth quarters of 2016, however, according to IHS Maritime & Trade, the tanker industry could have already seen its peak.

Namely, significant growth of the tanker fleet was recorded at the beginning of the year as almost 40 new bunker, bitumen, and asphalt carriers came into service during January 2016.

Out of these new vessels, which range from a few thousand tonnes to 300,000 dwt, eight crude oil tankers with a combined tonnage that makes up two-thirds of the total were handed over in January. A total of eighteen chemical tankers were delivered, while ten MR2 tankers, totalling 486,000 dwt, were handed over to their owners during the month.

Very large crude carriers (VLCCs) accounted for 1.8 million dwt and Aframaxes just over 500,000 dwt, IHS Maritime & Trade’s Data Analyst, Devlin McStay, said.

McStay added that the high tanker charter rates are expected to stay steady for the next 18 months despite an increase in delivery of new tankers scheduled for late 2016.

The analysis finds that the industry can absorb the extra tonnage and even expect that fleet growth will not outstrip demand in the next eight months, at least in the short term.

Based on the prediction, as long as demand for oil stays high and consumption increases in developing countries, the industry will remain healthy. However, as the fleet gains tonnage and scrapped tanker numbers remain low, IHS said that vessel supply would rise.

“Many are saying we are at the high point for tankers within a seven-year cycle. But it could be downhill from now on for the best part of a decade after peaking in 2016,” IHS writes.