Record Fleet of Ships Coming to Load Oil in US Keeps Growing

51 Ships Expected in Next Three Months, the Most in Six Years
Oil tankers in California
Oil tankers anchored near the Port of Long Beach in California. (Tim Rue/Bloomberg News)

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The record number of supertankers sailing toward the shores of the U.S. is getting ever larger.

There are 51 ships headed to the nation’s ports over the next three months. That’s the most in at least six years, climbing by three from the previous week’s record. About 80% of the vessels are empty, indicating that they intend to pick up cargoes in the U.S.

The growing volume comes after U.S. crude exports surged this year to a record. Overseas shipments have averaged 4.1 million barrels a day, based on the Energy Information Administration’s weekly data, up from 3.5 million in 2022. That has helped offset some of the supply losses arising from output curbs by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies.

Earnings for giant tankers capable of hauling 2 million barrels of crude jumped in October, in part led by higher demand for shipments from the U.S. Gulf. They climbed above $30,000 a day, the highest since June, according to data from the Baltic Exchange in London.

Earlier in November, London-based shipbroker EA Gibson said the glut of ships also included vessels heading to the region on a speculative basis, without any cargo bookings. Stronger winter demand could mean higher earnings for those tankers when they reach the U.S., according to Svetlana Lobaciova, a principal analyst at the firm.

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