New floating storage peak

278.2 million barrels stored at sea

by Port News Editorial Staff

You’d think the race for storage would be over by now. Instead, over the last few days a new peak has been reached, mainly due to the unsold, “parked” loads of Venezuelan and American crude oil off the coast of South Africa and Singapore.

A total of 278.2 million barrels are currently stored at sea, on board 239 tankers at anchor for over twenty days. This is what Lloyd’s List Intelligence reports, after updating their data ten days ago: on 18th May, 233.4 mb (million barrels) were “traced” on 191 ships.

The market analysis company linked to the Lloyd’s List group, however, points out that the over 70 million barrels of Iranian oil currently under US embargo should be subtracted from the global figure.

32.2 mb contain refined products such as gasoline, jet fuel or diesel. The rest is crude oil or fuel oil. At the moment, 10% of the large tankers (VLCCs) currently operating in world trade are used as floating storage.

The use of these tankers for purposes other than the traditional ones has so far consented shipping companies operating in the liquid bulk market to survive the economic crisis triggered by the Coronavirus, allowing them to achieve significantly higher than average profit margins.

Shipping companies operating in other sectors (containers, new cars, passengers, dry bulk) have not been so fortunate.

Translation by Giles Foster

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