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LLoyds List: Shell tops tanker charter table as traders rise

Anglo-Dutch oil major is most important charterer again despite losing ground in VLCCs, writes Tony Gray, Lloyds List

Published: Jan 09, 2007

‘You can be sure of Shell’ is one of the Anglo-Dutch oil major’s advertising slogans that the tanker market will enthusiastically endorse.

In 2006, Shell again emerged as the most important charterer of spot tankers by a comfortable margin.

But statistics issued by Poten ‘ Partners, a leading New York-based tanker broker, also show some significant changes among very large crude carrier charterers and the growing influence of oil traders in the market.

Shell’s share of the spot market was 7.6%, or 755 fixtures, a percentage performance in line with its importance to the market in the previous couple of years.

Two fellow oil majors, ExxonMobil and BP, claimed second and third positions, respectively, with market shares of 5.2% (514 fixtures) and 4.7% (465).

Shell was most influential in the aframax and suezmax segments, ceding the top spot in VLCCs to ExxonMobil.

In aframaxes, Shell accounted for more than 9% of spot fixtures 410 out of a total of 4,411.

Two oil traders, Clearlake and Vitol, came next but trailed Shell by some distance with 256 and 253 fixtures, respectively.

Shell was also the most active charterer in the suezmax segment, with 143 fixtures representing 7% of the total 2,036 fixtures.

Sun followed closely with 140 fixtures, while BP claimed third position with 117.

A notable development in the suezmax segment was the advance of Clearlake to fourth position from ninth.

But it was the VLCC segment which experienced the most significant changes in the composition of the top 10 charterers.

ExxonMobil moved up from second to first position with 149 fixtures, or 8.1% of the 1,824 concluded.

Shell’s 96 fixtures resulted in a drop from first to third, while Unipec, the trading arm of China Petroleum ‘ Chemical, moved up one notch to second position after fixing 103 spot VLCCs.

The VLCC segment also saw three new entries in the top 10 SK (fifth, 74 fixtures), Chinese Petroleum Corp (sixth, 69) and S Oil (ninth, 59).

Poten ‘ Partners notes that 14% of last year’s reported VLCC spot fixtures were concluded by charterers that were not in the top 10 for 2005.

In the panamax segment, Ursa led the way with 87 fixtures, followed by Glencore’s subsidiary ST Shipping and BP with 76 and 71, respectively.

In terms of the overall tanker spot market, the most prominent oil traders were Vitol (fourth with 442 fixtures), Clearlake (sixth, 378) and ST Shipping (ninth, 276).

There was only one change of name among the top 20 charterers in 2006 SK came in at 16th, while Lukoil dropped out.

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