Iran Daily reports that the Iranians are increasing oil storage in super-tankers once again - Iran Adds 3 Supertankers To Storage Fleet.
Iran, OPEC's second-biggest oil producer, added three supertankers to its fleet of vessels storing crude, matching a similar program in 2008 that helped freight rates to triple, ship tracking data show.
At least 15 such vessels are idling in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Suez, according to data from the ships collected by AISLive Ltd. The tankers can store a combined 30 million barrels of oil, more than a week of national output, Bloomberg reported.
Two years ago, Iran used as many as 15 tankers for storage, constricting vessel supply and helping to more than triple freight rates in less than three months.
Iran is likely storing oil because of weakening demand as refineries across Asia, accounting for almost two-thirds of global demand for supertankers, carry out maintenance. National Iranian Tanker Co., which operates the supertankers, also has a laden suezmax tanker idling off Iran, ship-tracking data show. A suezmax can hold about 1 million barrels of oil.
"They don't want to shut down their production," said Ole-Rikard Hammer, an analyst at Pareto Securities ASA in Oslo who's tracked tanker markets for more than two decades. "The refining clients are buying less because of maintenance and the Iranians seem to prefer to keep oil in floating storage."
The discount on Iran Heavy crude compared with Oman and Dubai petroleum is at its widest in more than a year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The discounts on Iran's Forozan, Soroush and Norouz crudes have also widened.
National Iranian Tanker has a fleet of 28 supertankers, according to Lloyd's Register-Fairplay data on Bloomberg. The remaining 13 carriers are all either moving or have been at their present locations for less than two weeks, according to the tracking data.