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Ship Brokers Cut Back Fuel Shipments to the US East Coast

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November 8, 2012


(Bloomberg) — Gasoline shipments to the U.S. from Europe are poised to fall after inventories of the auto fuel swelled because of distribution difficulties caused by superstorm Sandy, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

Traders and oil companies booked 13 tankers for the two weeks to Nov. 21 and another 11 probably will be hired, according to the median estimate in a survey of six shipbrokers and traders who specialize in transporting gasoline. The total number is two fewer than last week.

The storm flooded fuel terminals on the U.S. East Coast, curbed deliveries and left many filling stations without power and unable to run pumps. “Restricted” distribution capacity spurred higher oil-product inventories, according to a report from BNP Paribas SA. Operations were limited at all New York Harbor terminals, spokeswoman Emily Mir said by e-mail Nov. 6.

“If traders send too much there, the U.S. infrastructure won’t be able to cope with it,” Ehsan Ul-Haq, senior market consultant at KBC Energy Economics in Walton-on-Thames, England, said by phone today. “It’s not certain whether it can all be taken to consumers.”

U.S. gasoline inventories rose by 2.87 million barrels, the most in 15 weeks, to 202.4 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 2, according to the Department of Energy.

Long Island

As many as 70 percent of stations in New Jersey were selling fuel on Nov. 6, according to the AAA, the largest U.S. motoring organization, compared with as few as 35 percent five days earlier. Rates were as high as 75 percent in New York City and 65 percent on Long Island, the AAA said.

The East Coast accounts for a third of U.S. gasoline demand at about 3 million barrels a day, according to RS Platou Markets AS, the investment-banking unit of Norway’s largest shipbroker.

Tankers plying the trans-Atlantic route are earning $5,871 daily, figures from the London-based Baltic Exchange showed. Returns plunged 72 percent from the start of this year.

About 39 vessels probably will be available for the voyage, four fewer than last week, the survey showed.

The 24 ships booked or probably hired over the next two weeks, called Medium-Range tankers, would be able to carry 888,000 metric tons of gasoline, or 539,000 barrels a day. The survey is based on so-called single-voyage, or spot, charters and excludes loadings under longer-term contracts. It assumes shipments to the U.S. East Coast from northwestern Europe. Each tanker would normally haul about 37,000 tons of gasoline, or 315,000 barrels.

Following is a table of ships chartered and those probably hired for the trans-Atlantic voyage loading over the two-week periods from the dates shown. The table also displays the number of ships available to be booked.

31-Oct 7-Nov Change
Ships Hired 12 13 8%
Ships Probably Hired 14 11 -21%
Total Hired 26 24 -8%
Available Ships 43 39 -9%

– Rob Sheridan, Copyright 2012 Bloomberg.


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