2018 has been terrible for the crude oil tankers, as freight rates and the fleet utilisation rate fell to a record low level, BIMCO reports. Namely, after a strong 2015, good 2016 and a decent 2017, loses came back to the industry, after three years with profits.
Crude oil tanker earnings have never been this bad. Earnings for Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) in the first half of 2018 were as low at USD 6,001 per day, with a Suezmax tanker earning USD 10,908 per day and an Aframax making USD 9,614 per day.
In addition, the total crude oil tanker fleet has not increased at all in 2018. In fact, the VLCC and Aframax fleets specifically haven't been growing over the past 12 months, as the freight market is impacted by very weak demand.
In order to achieve higher earnings, a very low fleet growth and a return to normalised demand level are required as soon as possible, but patience is needed.
As Peter Sand BIMCO's chief shipping analyst mentioned, higher rates can be expected in the second half of 2019 before an improved market balance will deliver again profits.
To make the return to profitability faster, demolition activity of excess capacity in the crude oil tanker sector is critical. In addition, a different oil market balance may also cause a return to higher oil prices.
Currently, 110 VLCC have been ordered, along with 50 Suezmax and 124 Aframax tankers.The VLCCs will be delivered within the next 33 months.