By Jessica Jaganathan and Keith Wallis
SINGAPORE, Oct 12 (Reuters) – Glencore’s shipping unit ST Shipping has chartered a newly built very large crude carrier (VLCC) to ship gasoil from South Korea possibly to Africa in a rare move, shipbrokers and traders said on Wednesday.
Gasoil is usually shipped on medium and long-range sized vessels carrying up to 700,000 barrels. It is unusual for the industrial and motor fuel to be shipped in VLCCs able to carry about 2.2 million barrels of the oil product.
Shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows that the brand-new, 299,011 deadweight tonne (DWT) Gener8 Oceanus VLCC, now off the southeast coast of Taiwan en route to Singapore, and with a carrying capacity of about 2.2 million barrels, has been chartered to load gasoil.
Several broker and trading sources said the ship, which was delivered to ship owner Gener8 Maritime Inc by South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Mipo Heavy Industries on Sept. 12., was chartered by Glencore’s shipping arm ST Shipping.
One of the brokers said the ship would load more gasoil in Singapore before heading to Africa, though this could not be confirmed with ST Shipping or Glencore.
Neither company would comment on the matter.
VLCCs typically ship crude oil and fuel oil but newly built ships sometimes carry cleaner oil products like gasoil in their maiden voyages out of Asia before doing a return trip with crude oil to offset shipping costs, shipbrokers said.
Separately, Koch Supply and Trading is expected to lease the 320,000 DWT VLCC Eco Seas on a time charter of about three months, although it was not immediately clear if it will load gasoil or crude initially.
The newly built vessel, owned by privately held Norwegian group Awilhelmsen, is currently at South Korea’s Okpo port doing sea trials, according to Eikon data.
Koch did not respond to an e-mail for comment, and like Glencore does not typically comment on trading matters.
The cargoes were likely fixed when freight rates for VLCCs were lower, but rates have since soared due to seasonal demand and increased cargoes from West Africa, shipbrokers said.
French oil major Total and oil trader Vitol shipped gasoil in newly built VLCCs earlier this year from Asia to Europe.
Thirty VLCCs were delivered between January and August, while a further 13 were ordered in the first half of this year, according to data from ship broker Banchero Costa (Bancosta). (Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan and Keith Wallis; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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