The price plunge has spurred China, the world’s second-biggest importer after the U.S., to accelerate bookings of oil cargoes. It will also shave almost $20 billion a year in fuel costs across the maritime industry if prices that dropped 18 percent since last November hold around current levels, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
While the oil slide is hurting nations from Saudi Arabia to Iran that depend on energy for revenues, companies including airlines and cement makers are benefiting as their fuel costs decline. Ship owners serving the industry’s benchmark Middle East-to-Asia trade routes are reaping the best returns from charters in years as the slump drives down the industry’s single biggest expense.
“We’ve seen the Chinese buying a lot from the Middle East and that’s really let rates cook,” Erik Stavseth, an analyst at Arctic Securities ASA in Oslo whose recommendations on shippers returned 15 percent in the past year, said by phone Nov. 11. “With oil prices low going into winter, that’s likely to continue.”