The number of supertankers sailing toward China’s ports surged to a nine-month high amid speculation an oil-price slump is encouraging the world’s second-biggest crude importer to accelerate purchases.
There are 80 very large crude carriers, the industry’s biggest ships, sailing toward the Asian country’s ports, according to IHS Fairplay vessel-tracking signals compiled by Bloomberg at about 10 a.m. today. That’s the highest since Jan. 3. Average shipments are 2 million barrels.
Brent crude, the global benchmark, plunged to a four-year low yesterday amid speculation Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other nations in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries won’t curb production. The slump is likely encouraging buying to fill China’s strategic stocks, according to Energy Aspects Ltd., a London-based consultant.
“There’s a lot of bargain hunting going on,” Richard Mallinson, an analyst at Energy Aspects, said by phone. “Whilst prices are low we think there’ll be buying for Strategic Petroleum Reserve filling and also just trying to capture these discounted crudes.”
Brent crude pared its slump today after Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said there was no glut of oil and that prices have plunged too far. December contracts gained 0.7 percent $86.42 a barrel in London at 1:28 p.m. today. WTI, the U.S. benchmark, was up 1 percent at $83.53.