The rebound in oil prices is still not here, and new data suggests that it will take some more time before the markets start to balance out.
Global supplies are still too large to justify a significant rally in oil prices. The latest indicator that the glut of oil has yet to ease comes from the FT, which concludes that there is 100 million barrels of oil sitting in oil tankers. Oil has piled up in tankers that are floating at sea, as onshore storage space begins to dwindle.
The level of crude oil stashed at sea is nearly double what it was earlier in 2015. “Onshore storage is not quite full but it is at historically high levels globally,” David Wech of JBC Energy told the FT. “As we move closer to capacity that is creating more infrastructure hiccups and delays in the oil market, leading to more oil being backed out on to the water.”
Rising levels of crude stored at sea has more to do with shrinking capacity onshore, rather than traders stockpiling volumes in order to profit from an eventual rebound in prices. Oil tanker rates have surged this year, so it doesn’t exactly make sense to store oil at sea strictly for a trading opportunity. Daily rates for very large crude carriers (VLCCs) are around $60,000 per day, although down from a peak of $111,000 per day hit on October 8. The collapse of crude prices over the past year have contributed to a surge in tanker rates – while volatile, VLCC daily rates consistently ran as low as $20,000 over the last few years.
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