Saudi Vela on spot charter spree as Riyadh moves to calm oil markets
Singapore (Platts)--21Mar2012/644 am EDT/1044 GMT
Saudi Arabia's latest pledge to ensure adequate supply of oil to world
markets appears to be backed up by a nearly three-month-long spate of spot
chartering by state shipper Vela.
Trade and shipping sources say Vela, the chartering arm of Saudi Aramco,
has been fixing vessels to haul crude from the Persian Gulf to the US Gulf
Coast since the beginning of this year.
Vela has hitherto tended to go to the spot market for no more than three
or four VLCCs each month to supplement its own fleet for voyages to the US.
But shipping data provided to Platts by brokers shows that Vela's spot
fixtures this year include nine supertankers in January, 15 in February and
eight so far in March.
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"It is a very interesting phenomenon. It is not just Vela that's moving
oil into the US Gulf from the Persian Gulf. Even Western oil majors and
trading houses are moving it at the moment," a source with a VLCC shipowner
US and European refiners have been accepting a lot of crude cargoes in
the past two to three months. The movement of cargoes into the US Gulf via
the Cape of Good Hope has increased," he said.
A VLCC can move up to 2 million barrels of crude or fuel oil.
Some sources suggest, however, that Vela may have increased its reliance
on the spot market because some of its own tonnage may have been locked up
for other business.
Vela's supertankers typically deliver crude to the US Gulf Coast and
then load fuel oil either there or in the Caribbean for delivery to Asia.
These return voyages can lock up the vessel for close to 30-35 days, which
could mean Vela having to look to the spot market.
"While Vela has been busy in the spot market, we should also factor in
that their vessels have been chartered by many players who move fuel oil and
crude from the Caribbean into the Eastern markets. These are long voyages
and Vela would have to hire vessels from the spot market for its traditional
voyage," another source with a VLCC shipowner said.
Earlier Tuesday, Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi said the kingdom stood
ready to bring on its full capacity of 12.5 million b/d if needed, but that
currently oil supply was running ahead of demand by some 1.5 million-2
million b/d and oil prices at current levels were unjustified given market
Speaking to a small group of journalists in the Qatari capital Doha,
Naimi said Saudi Arabia expected to produce 9.9 million b/d in March and was
likely to produce the same volume in April. Saudi Arabia has an estimated 10
million barrels of crude oil stored close to markets in Rotterdam, Sidi
Kerir in the northern Red Sea and in Okinawa in Japan. The kingdom also has
operational storage at home, he added.
Vela was not available for comment.
Vela's spot market fixtures:January-loading:
Kahla, early January
Leo Glory, January 6
Katsuragisan, January 7
Callisto Glory, January 15
Samco America, January 15
Samco Scandinavia, January 16
Centennial Jewel, January 24
Sahba, January 25
Saturn Glory, January 30
Ioanna, February 5
Altair Trader, February 22
Maersk Nucleus, February 7
Ghazal, February 17
C.Dream, February 13
BW Peony G, February 16
Apollonia, February 18
Xin Pu Yang, February 24
Abqaiq, February 21
BW Luna, February 21
Bunga Kasturi Enam, February 21
Cosglory Lake, February 29
Cosco TBN, February 29
Yangtze Rhyme, February 29
Cosgreat Lake, February 29
Andromeda Glory, March 2
Australis, March 2
Maritime Jewel, March 8
Marjan 280, March 8
Dorra, March 20
Cosco TBN, March 26
Astipalaia 2, March 23
Ramlah, March 15
--Pradeep Rajan, firstname.lastname@example.org