Robust tanker demand will keep freight costs high

Louisa Follis, SSY Consultancy & Research, SSY Shipbrokers, LondonOil tanker rates have proven very firm so far this year, following the pattern set in 2003 and leaving charterers to pay a hefty fee for their freight costs.Spot prices for some of the key oil trades to the US soared from the very low levels seen in the global economic downturn of late 2001 and 2002. But with global economic recovery and greater trading of oil, freight rates have bounced back.In January 2004, the cost of freight for a Suezmax tanker (see accompanying box) carrying 180,000 tonnes of West African crude to the US was equivalent to about 11% of the cost of cargo. This compares with 7% of the cost of cargo in Ja...

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