Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

U.S. refiners are scaling back on hiring ships for longer periods to save on costs in another sign of uncertainty over when global oil demand will return to pre-COVID levels, shipping and trade sources say.

The global rollout of coronavirus vaccines and the expectation that government-offered stimulus packages will boost the world economy has raised expectations of a recovery in oil consumption. But fuel demand remains sluggish, keeping oil refiners under pressure and looking for ways to limit further losses.

The International Energy Agency, for example, does not expect oil demand to catch up with supply until about the third quarter.

Story continues below advertisement

U.S. bookings for tankers hired on longer-term contracts, known as time charters, have dropped in recent weeks, as this usually means paying for longer hire costs, the sources said.

“It is tough taking a time charter now as it will lose money for the next few months and is hard to justify,” one shipping source said.

Time charter rates for medium-range oil products tankers have fallen from their 2020 peaks, with one-year charters around $12,000 a day from highs of around $20,000 a day in July of last year, industry estimates showed.

Earnings for three-year and five-year time charters have also dropped from last year’s highs, a trend which is weighing on profits for tanker owners.

“2021 is bound to become a bad year for oil product tankers – more so, as the option to manage bits and pieces of your risk in the time charter market is slim,” said Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst with trade association BIMCO.

Sand added that there were more time charters concluded in 2020 than in the two previous years.

This was partly because tankers were booked for storage as oil demand plummeted.

Story continues below advertisement

One U.S. refining executive said it did not plan to go back to chartering long-term vessels in the future to cut costs.

“The last thing you need is to get stuck with several millions of dollars worth of unused vessels for the year. We have had several cases of that,” the U.S. executive said.

U.S. refiners were also hit by the cold conditions in Texas in January, which triggered a drop in refinery throughput, leaving fewer refiners seeking vessels for shipments and temporarily cut overall refined product exports.

U.S. refined product exports have fallen in five of the last six weeks, based on EIA figures.

“Local (U.S.) demand was met by storage drawdowns, and combined with the refinery outages, this put significant downward pressure on the export market, which was already being hit by weak demand from the COVID pandemic,” shipping group Maersk Tankers told Reuters.

In addition, the wind down in floating storage from last year’s peaks has added to a surplus of tankers available for hire.

Story continues below advertisement

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies